Thursday, 31 January 2019

"Aladdin Jr" by KTYCo
Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton.
"Who would pay to see people singing and dancing?" is one of the lines in this show, and I can answer that; anyone who loves great entertainment like this show.
The Kristian Thomas Youth Company present an evening of magical and mystical entertainment for all the family. I've seen several of this theatre company's shows and have not seen a duff one yet, but this is the first of their youth group's presentations and it is every bit as professional as the adult productions. I expected that because I know what perfectionists this team are.
The story is one that we all know about Aladdin's stroke of luck with the magic lamp and finding his Princess Jasmine and this incredible and young cast just bring the story to life before your very eyes, they had me smiling within the first five minutes of the curtains opening and I didn't stop until well after I gave them a standing ovation at their curtain call.
Aiden Carson (Aladdin) was a perfect piece of casting with great energy, oozing with likeability and he has a really good musical theatre voice, which in a few years time will be a massive asset to any theatre company.
Nadia Potter (Jasmine) also has a great voice and in either solo or duets with Aiden, she shines vocally. Loved the feistiness of the character and a lovely melting of Jasmine as she meets Aladdin.
Bailey West (Jafar) is an actor I've had the pleasure of seeing before so i knew what Bailey was capable of. Or so I thought! As the evil Jafar, he showed another layer of his acting skills and I could see him doing really well in pantos in the future as a baddie because he's really mastered the evilness. I also loved the way that he had just the right amount of echo on his voice to signify that he was trouble. Great character role.
Talking of brilliance and greatness, I was completely bowled over by the talented Olivia Weaver who played the Genie. She can dance, sing and has a wonderful sense of comic timing, and those high kicks at the start WOW! A triple threat.
Also loved Bridie Mae O’Donnell (Iago). Another young actor with natural "funny bones" and this role played to her obvious strengths. Plus she stepped in at the last moment as Harrison who should have been playing the part was unwell. Hope you get better soon, Harrison.
Aladdin's faithful trio of friends were played by Daya Khosse (Babkak), Paige Sisson (Omar) and Daniel Lane (Kassim). great fun to watch all three of these in action.
Likewise are Jasmine's trio of Luiseach McAleese (Isir), Orlagh McAleese (Manal) and Emily Bridge (Rajah)
Ollie Davidson (The Sultan) is also one to watch.
Several excellent cameo parts which I loved were from Hana Bendiba (Spooky Voice), Chloe Elsom (Alfreya) and a wonderfully miffed Prince Abdullah played by Abe Collishaw.
The ensemble was massive and when they sang all together, the sound they made was incredible. You could tell that they all put such a lot into all of the roles and it all paid off because this was such a sleek show stuffed with talent.
Loved the choreography (Helen Perry), and there was a lot in there, and if you go and see this show - if you can get tickets - watch for the placement and turning out of the hands, they are superb for such young dancers. Loved the tap routine as well.
Directed by Katy MacLaughlin, she kept this show so tight. practically no empty stages and on the odd occasion, the music covered.
Co-produced by Shannon O'Donnell and Kristian Cunningham, so another guarantee of slickness and professionalism.
A brilliant set design with a rotating piece of set which really impressed me. I kept looking to see if I could see anyone spinning it around but I couldn't see anyone. It was bright, it was colourful and it was practical as well. A massive pat on the back for Tom Bond and Graham Scattergood.
Loved the colourful Lighting Design (Matthew Cook) making it even more fun to watch. There were a few minor hiccups with the mics but nothing really to spoil the show, and Hannah Griffiths did a sterling job of the sound.
The costumes (Tracey Scattergood) were fantastic, adding even more colour to the show,
Tom Bond was the Musical Director and while there were a couple of places where the music drowned the singing, I loved that it was loud, but not too loud, with a beautiful clarity to the tracks.
Most of the songs you will know, "A Whole New World", "Friend Like Me", "Arabian Nights" and the gorgeous "Proud Of Your Boy", but the whole soundtrack will have you tapping your feet throughout.
This show is practically perfect and so professionally produced that you almost forget you're watching a local theatre production. I for one know that local theatre shows are often just as well presented as any touring professional piece of theatre. Go on prove me wrong if you can and pop to the Duchess Theatre and see this smasher.
"Aladdin Jr" is at the Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton until Saturday 2 February 2019

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

“Anything Goes” by Act One
Iveshead Theatre, Shepshed.
Now, when I was a lad, we never had theatres like this in our school. A fully functioning theatre with a deep stage, professional lighting and sound and an orchestra. A massive asset to the students who go to Iveshead School and are part of Act One.
Anyway, for those of you who don't know the story of "Anything Goes", here goes.....
The S. S. American is sailing between New York and England with a colourful group of passengers: Reno Sweeney, a popular nightclub singer and former evangelist, her pal Billy Crocker, a lovelorn Wall Street broker who has come aboard to try to win the favour of his beloved Hope Harcourt (who is engaged to another passenger, Sir Evelyn Oakleigh), and a second-rate conman named Moonface Martin, aka “Public Enemy #13.” Song, dance, and farcical antics are abound as Reno and Moonface try to help Billy win the love of his life.
Olivia Needham (Reno Sweeney) is feisty and determined as Reno. She is very engaging and can really deliver a song. her dancing ability is also excellent and she has some energetic dance routines to perform while singing, and she does this without looking the slightest bit out of breath.
Oliver Halford (Billy Crocker) is a natural. He looks comfortable on stage and makes a fine leading man,and for one so young, he has a really good voice., I think there was just one song that may have been not in the right range for him, but he delivered on everything he did. And you know my love of a good accent, well this young actor pulled off several in his role. Someone to look out for in the future.
Isabel Morris (Hope Harcourt) has a lovely chemistry with the two men in her on stage life. Her duet with Oli on "It's Delovely" was performed in true Broadway panache, setting the tone for the whole show.
Alex Leeson (Sir Evelyn Oakleigh), what can I say? Alex was just incredible in this part. His upper class accent was perfect and he really got into this part, even when the focus was not on him, he was still performing. He is a young actor who gets inside the character and acts with his whole body. He is going to be a wonderful character actor in the future. One of my highlight performers in this richly talented cast.
Will Savage (Moonface Martin), I could say ditto as above because Will has a really good ear for accents and his Noo Yoik/ Yonkers accent was spot on. He was great fun to watch work and has a good sense of comic timing.
Nicola Coles (Bonnie Mia /Mrs Wadsworth T. Harcourt) did make me smile as the overbearing, bossy mother, desperate for her daughter to marry Oakley.
Kyle Cornwell (Elisha J Whitney) is also a really good character actor in his part as Billy's boss.
Ryan Moreland (Captain Of The SS American) and Noah Baguley (Purser) looked great in their roles and showed just the right level of authority in carrying them out.
Reno's backing ladies, The Angels were played by Katie Ince, (Melody), Millie-Mae Clarke (Harmony), Josie Ince (Symphony) and Scarlett Robinson (Rhapsody), and a lovely harmonic quartet they were too.
The Chinese Converts Ching and Ling were played by Charlotte Coles and AlicePowell., Bishop Henry T Dobson was played by Ryan Moreland, the sailors by Freya Lakin, Georgia Brierley Smith, Jessica Robinson and Lydia Bird.
Reporters & Passengers were Lily-Mae Dunnicliffe, Sophie York, Toby Ashurst and Yasmin Wilbram and the other passengers: by Charlotte-Grace Davis, Ellie Freer, Grace Burton, Gracie Collins & Leah Leslie.
An absolutely delovely cast and ensemble who really rocked the theatre with the large dance numbers, especially the amazingly good tap section.
Produced and Directed by Adrian Dobson, and you can really tell the passion that Adrian has for these shows because of the end product. I am sure that he in immensely proud of everyone involved in this, not the easiest of musicals to perform, performance.
Musical Director is Hazel Needham, again someone who I'm sure is very happy with the end product she produces with the other eight members of her orchestra. The sound was spot on, complementing the young actors and singers perfectly.
The music is very tasty, filled with some of the best known Cole Porter songs "You're the Top", "It's Delovely", "Friendship" - another one of my highlights of this show and sung with brilliant humour by Oliver, Olivia and Will - "I Get A Kick Out Of You" - beautifully arranged and sung with such class by Olivia- "Anything Goes", "Let's Misbehave" - another comic highlight sung by Olivia and Alex - the mighty ensemble number "Blow Gabriel Blow"- and a brilliant vehicle for Will Savage's comedy "Be Like A Bluebird". You see it's packed with great songs, and there are more.
Choreographed by Wendy Spencer with help from Helen Starkey, Michelle White, Olivia Needham & Danni Starkey. the dance sections are not easy, although this crew make them look easy. They are classy and as I've already highlighted, the tap sections were just wonderful.
Costumes by Lorna North, and boy did they look great. From the classic 1930's suits for the men to the glamorous ladies outfits and the glitzy outfits for Hope, The Angels and Reno. This is one classy wardrobe!
The set design is by LAOS, Kevin Spencer, Joe Harrison & Olivia Needham, and again, very classy indeed, and was well manged by the stage crew in the scene changes.
Sound (James White) and Lighting (Charlie Kent) were, as usual wonderful, although there were just a few mic issues, but it's first night, they'll all be ironed out for the rest of the run I am sure.
The only thing that disappointed me was that there should have been a bigger audience to see this very classy musical and the talented cast. this also meant that some of the more subtle comedy was missed. This cast and crew deserved more.
“Anything Goes” is being performed at Iveshead Theatre until Saturday 2 February 2019, with a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

“Grease” by Christchurch Theatre Club
Loughborough Town Hall
We may not be seeing Summer Nights this week, weather wise but at Loughborough Town Hall the sun is shining and there is great fun to be had with this brilliant slice of retro teen/coming of age High School awopbopaloobap awopbam boom fun musical.
Everyone knows the story of Rydell High’s Danny, the leader of the pack and High School “jock” and Sandy, the prim and proper “Sandra Dee” character who has just moved to Rydell and reacquaints herself with Danny after some Summer Lovin’ with Zuko, There's also the T Birds and The Pink Ladies and the unforgettable soundtrack, so I don’t need to go into the story for you.
Ashley Bright (Danny Zuko) is perfect casting. I always thought that John Travolta's version was just a bit too dense, but Ash's version portrays Zuko as an ordinary lad who likes to be with the ladies as well as being one of the boys, and that for me makes him more believable. He looks the part and he is a talented singer who delivers a song.
Anja Palmer (Sandy Dumbrowski), again looks the part and has mastered that Aussie accent that Olivia Newton-John did so well. The transformation from Miss Prim to sex kitten is stunning.
Holly Easter (Rizzo) really looked that iconic movie part. The hair, the outfits, the voice, the attitude. Squint and it could be Stockard Channing on stage. In the movie Rizzo was always one of my favourite female characters, maybe because of the vulnerability just below that tough surface, and Holly did a great job as Rizzo.
Aaron Murray (Kenickie), and you know I think I prefer Aaron's Kenickie to the original Jeff Conaway, once more because he's portrayed in a more human way than the caricature dumbo in the film. Aaron brings a more streetwise version of Kenickie to the stage, and I like that.
Hannah Donnelly (Jan), Lucy Brown (Marty) and Hannah Osgood (Frenchy) are well cast as The Pink Ladies, and being a big fan of Didi Conn, who played Frenchy in the film, I was taking a good long look at Hannah, and she did the role proud.
Jordan Cope (Sonny), Ollie Lewin (Roger) and George George Stackhouse(Doody), again perfect casting. Loved George's version of "Those Magic Changes" and Ollie's "Mooning", both songs highlighting their excellent falsettos.
Craig Butterworth (Teen Angel) gets to show off his vocals on "Beauty School Dropout" and his wings in just one of this show's many highlights.
Alix Johnston (Patty), Alex Hudson (Eugene), Anita Benson (Miss Lynch),Duncan Gadsby (Vince Fontaine), David Burton (Johnny Casino) and Frankie Johnson (Cha Cha Digregio) complete the main cast.
And another dozen make up the ensemble parts, so as you can tell, this is a large cast!
Co Directed and Co Choreographed by Michael Gamble and Julie Easter, this show is an explosion of energy and brilliant dance routines. Just look at the choreography for "We Go Together" and you'll see how well timed choreography is essential to this musical.
Vicki Hing is the Musical Director and I expected nothing less than a powerful and punchy sound from Vicki and her orchestra, and that is what I got. You just know when you look at the programme what you are going to get when you look at the names in there, and there are certain names I look out for. Vicki's is one of those names I look for.
Lighting Design (Rob Bridges) and Sound Design (Rob Temperton), as usual at Loughborough Town Hall is a colourful visual and aural delight.
Loved the costumes, hair and make up which all gave a wonderful aura of the era.
One thing I noticed about this production which some other productions have not done, is the complete movie soundtrack is used. In some productions, some songs are omitted, due to the fact that the company have to buy separate rights for some songs. this show has the lot. I'm so pleased at this as I know one of those additional rights is for the song "There Are Worse Things I Could Do" which has always been one of my favourite songs from the movie.
They are all there, "You're The One That I Want", "Summer Nights", "Grease", "Sandy", "Hopelessly Devoted To You", "Born To Hand Jive", "Look At Me I'm Sandra Dee", "We Go Together" and so many more.
Okay, now I get picky. there were a couple of songs that I thought weren't quite phrased right in parts and this may have led to them not giving the full emotional impact for me. I know that this was first night, and as you know I am a very forgiving type of bloke, so maybe I am making too many comparisons with the film soundtrack.
Let's face it, if this is the only thing I can nit pick at in this massively popular and incredibly entertaining and iconic work, then you know that this reviewer enjoyed himself, and the rime flew by liked Greased Lightning.
“Grease” is at Loughborough Town Hall until Saturday 2 February 2019 if you can get a ticket. It’s the one that you’ll want to see this week.
Photos by Betty Gamble Photography.

Monday, 28 January 2019

“A Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams
Lace Market Theatre
You can see why this play was so shocking when it was first performed in theatres in the late 1940s as it deals with adultery, alcohol abuse, domestic violence, gambling and mental illness. This is also the reason it has stood the test of time. The characters are beautifully flawed and the plot twists and turns, giving away the story a little at a time, keeping your attention every step of the way.
If you can disengage yourself from the film version, you can see that this cast have taken the characters and rudiments of the characters and have slightly remoulded them around themselves and their own personal set of acting skills. You won’t be seeing a Marlon Brando or Vivienne Leigh lookalikes or soundalikes in this production. You won’t need to as the cast have enough experience and are charismatic enough to take the story and carry it.
You can almost feel the New Orleans heat in this production as fading southern belle, Blanche DuBois, seeks solace with her sister, Stella Kowalski, after her world starts to crumble. Her downward spiral brings her face-to-face with Stella’s husband, the brutal, unforgiving Stanley Kowalski. Temperatures soar and passions rise, as Blanche and Stanley battle for Stella’s soul.
Danielle Amie Easter (Blanche) gave an absolute blinder of a performance and what a completely believable accent. The gradual decline of her mental health was like a slow burn, exacerbated though by Stanley's mental and physical actions. This is such a brilliant and complex role for any woman to play, making that role feel as natural as it looked from the audience takes an actor who knows just how to pitch that character. Danielle is that actor. Oh, and I love the comedy regarding the drinks at the start of the play.
Alex Wrampling(Stella) showed us the two sides of Blanche's sister, and I loved the way that there was that gradual flipping of the coin, revealing that she had the better end of the stick, especially after the put downs from Blanche at the start. As Blanche showed an even more glamorous side, Stella appeared the more dowdy, creating that sliding scale of character and appearance. A stellar performance.
Kelvin P. Coleman (Stanley), well what can I say? I have never seen Kelvin play anything like this in the past. Stanley creates the unease and Kelvin delivers the unease. Physically he looked different without the facial hair, and you would not believe how different he looks and the effect this physical change can make to create this character. You actually felt a little uneasy with this timebomb, and that, believe me, is just what you should feel. That is a sign that actor and director have both done their homework, and their intended job.
Jak Truswell (Mitch), again gives us two sides of the character with Blanche, and possibly helping her on the down slide, especially after we learn about Blanche's past. A really concentrated performance from an actor I've seen give some amazing performances over the year. Here's another passionate role to add to the list.
Dawn Price (Eunice), the neighbour upstairs who looks out for Stella. But this character has her own marital issues. Dawn presents this character as the sort of woman that every woman wants on her side. Strong, protective but also has the experience to be able to give comment and help.
Completing the cast are Paul Spruce (Steve Hubbel), John Halstead (Pablo Gonzales), Raj Singh (Young Collector/Sailor), Rupert Butt (Doctor), Marie Morehen (Matron and Flower Seller), Alistair Hudson (Vendor), Molly Wright (Woman In the Street) and Henry Vervoorts (Allen Grey).
The set is a wonderful piece of design (Mark James and Philip Makin) which really puts you right in the heart of the action and creates the whole 1940’s New Orleans feel.
Directed by Wayne Parkin, assisted by Peter Konowalik, they have not missed a thing, even bringing in a voice coach to get that specific regional accent nailed and a “poker guru”. Poker would go right over my head but is an integral and explosive part of the play but I do appreciate a finely turned out accent, which is exactly what we have in this here play, thanks to voice coach, Julie Fleming.
The little things that may go un-noticed make this play as realistic as it is. Simple things like having a bathroom suite that you only get to see glimpses of through the bathroom door.
Stanley actually looking like he had been soaked in the shower by his poker mates.
The hole in the bathroom door that had been patched up which gives us an idea that Stanley had had problems with his temper in the past.
These are things that maybe a Director with not the same eye for detail may have missed or not bothered with. they may be small things but they add that extra layer that says things to an audience member, production wise and story wise.
Sound Design (Simon Carter) and Lighting Design (Allan Green). Both of these very important in this play. The jazz soundtrack was perfect for this play, and being a Billie Holiday fan, I loved the inclusion of "Strange Fruit".
I did notice an eagerness on the lighting trigger finger at the start.
I must also give a mention to the wardrobe department for some very glamorous clothes for Blanche and the contrasting outfits for Stella..
This play is powerful, it shocks, it makes you feel uneasy, it will have you chuckling in parts and in others feeling troubled about what you're seeing. I always say that if you leave a theatre without feeling something, the cast have not done their job. I'm very pleased to say that this cast did an excellent job.
"A Streetcar Named Desire” is at the Nottingham Lace Market Theatre until Saturday 2 February 2019. Yet again though it has sold out before opening night so your only chance of getting a ticket is by checking for ticket returns on the night, or possibly winning one in a poker game!

Saturday, 26 January 2019

"Sleeping Beauty" by Your Chance Productions.
Old People's Welfare, Arnold.
Your Chance Productions have not had the best of year's last year what with one thing and another but, as Director Jessica McLean says in the programme, they are still here.
It's always difficult to vie with bigger local theatre companies, but this group have an enthusiastic core of actors, and it's that enthusiasm that carries this panto through.
We all know the story of "Sleeping Beauty" and while being faithful to the story, there are a few lovely additions here and a clever script. I was really happy to see the inclusion of the cake baking section, which I had seen Your Chance Productions perform before in one of their previous productions. I'm all in favour of recycling a funny script when it fits the piece, as this did here.
There are a couple of things that i felt could elevate this production. The sound system, for me, was not loud enough and the backing music seemed distant. I later found out that the speakers at the venue weren't very big, so you have to make do with the equipment that are available, unless you can afford to bring your own sound system in. You work with what you've got to do the best you can. I think the timing for the musical cues could also have been tighter and not cut off at the end.
There were a few empty stages, which timing would have tightened that up. Rehearsal time is not something that you can get enough of, and ask any theatre group, and getting all of the cast and technical team all together at the same time in the venue that you are performing in, is a luxury for any theatre group.
OK negative head off and let's get positive.
I've already said that enthusiasm is something this group have in abundance, as is a natural talent for entertaining, so this really won me round.Not that i really needed winning round because I was in the mood for more panto fun.
Madeleine Walker (Princess Aurora/Rose) has a beautiful voice, reminiscent of a young Judy Garland. She is magnetic when on stage.
Christian Oliver-Bates (Prince Cedar/Dame Marigold) Now there is something you don't see in many pantos, a Dame that doubles as a Prince. I've seen Oliver before and know that he has a really good voice, which he showed off well tonight.
Bertie Black (Basil), played to his strengths in this role as the comedy character. A very physical role which saw him on the floor almost as often as he was standing. Bertie will always succeed in bringing a smile to your face.
Katie Stephenson (Daisy) is quite lovely as this genteel character who reveals to Basil that she loves him at the end, and another fine voice for the cast.
Beth Hinchliffe (Lavender) is the good fairy in this panto;the hero of "Sleeping Beauty" and we all love a hero that talks in rhyme, all of the time.
Amy Bennett (Nightshade) was brilliant as the panto baddie, and I was really pleased to start the booing off for this deliciously nasty character role. And I get the feeling that Amy also quite liked playing this part.
Jessica McLean (Dandelion) is another one of those local actors who you can rely on to give her all every time and that is no different here.
Thomas Keetley (The King/The Ghost) gave a lovely slightly haughty performance as The King, and also provided some lovely comic moments throughout.
And finally, Evelyn Ellison (The Queen) looked perfectly regal, and a lovely pairing with Tom.
I know that small local theatre groups have reduced funds but i was so impressed with the costumes in this panto. Every single one were so well designed and looked amazing.
With a few tweaks here and there, "Sleeping Beauty" would have been smoother and tighter, but there are more positives than negatives here.
The jokes I loved, you know me the cheesier the better, and there were plenty of cheese jokes edam, sorry made, and even though I had heard them all before, they still made me chuckle.
What this group needed on Saturday night though was a better audience, or at least more of an audience. I'd heard that there had been more seats sold and that people had failed to turn up for the show.
That is all well and good, as long as the money's been paid and it goes into the YCP funds, but it would have been great to have a bigger audience, which would have created more atmosphere. At the end of the day, panto needs an audience and if not, it makes it harder for the actors as they feed off the audience reaction.
"Sleeping Beauty" is on at Old People's Welfare on Nottingham Road, Arnold until Sunday 27 January. Support your local theatre group.

Friday, 25 January 2019

“The Pied Piper” by Ravenshead Theatre Group
Ravenshead Village Hall
This is the first pantomime that I have seen by Ravenshead Theatre Group, and I have one question. What have I been missing?
This pantomime is a new piece of writing by Daniel Barrow, based on the old story of The Pied Piper Of Hamelin and uses members of both the Ravenshead Youth Group and the Ravenshead Theatre Group, which I have always found a great experience for both age groups.
It's a very traditional panto which will appeal to all age groups, as a good traditional panto should do.
On the day of the Hamelin tournament there are plans afoot to flood the town with rats and spoil the day. the evil Florid and Von Dump want to take over the town and with the help of Ratsputin, they can do that. But here comes a hero with a magic flute to rid the town of rats. Hoorah!
Running parallel with this story are several other minor offshoots which all come together at the end, very happily. Double Hoorah!
Rob Hurst plays the King of the rats, Ratsputin. Not so much an evil character, more of a panto baddie who we all love to boo whenever he appears on stage
Ratsputin's chorus of rats are played by Oliver Glover, Travis Greenwood, Jacques Hurst and Fotis Manolas.
Sarah Tryner plays the hero of the piece, the Pied Piper, also known as Gideon - who would have guessed? I love how animated Sarah is in this role and it shows that panto is a natural role for her. She is great fun to watch, and can think on her feet as well.
Panto is all about well matched pairs and we end up with several of these here.
Andrew Cook (Gunter) and Catherine Buckley (Klaus) are brilliant foils. I loved the accents with these two.
Julie Cox (Florid) and Ken Cumberpatch (Lemuel Von Hump). Proper nasties who are great fun.
Hazel O'Connell (Heidi) and Daniel Andrews (Heinz), the Romeo and Juliet of the panto, who also have an offshoot comedy section regarding food.
Every panto needs a good "dame" figure and this panto has a wonderful "dame" in the shape of Hortensia Humble - who makes pies. Terry Cox has all the attributes of a traditional panto dame down to a tee.
Most of the music in the panto is performed live by Laura Bishton, who plays the Minstrel. This is quite refreshing as there are no big choreographed dance numbers of modern songs, just a gentle narration to music baroque stylee.
John Birch (Mayor of Hamelin), Emily Bowes and Pat James (The Stallholders), Caleb Ryde (Colin - the Sausage Squirrell), Val Marland (Beverley the Cow), Adam Hague ( the Keeper Of the Aquarium), Lucy Johnson, James Terry and Rojin Altuntas Ding, Dang and Dong the Wood Fairies). All bringing more magic to this panto
Lucy also stepped into the breach to play Gretel at the last moment after the original young actor fell ill and was not able to perform. the show must go on and Lucy made sure that it did.
Directed by Daniel Barrow and assisted by Dennis Baggarley.
The costumes (Lin Baggarley and Val Marland) were wonderful, with Heinz's final costume getting an audible intake of breath - and a wolf whistle - at the end.
Sound (Graham Smith) and Lighting (Katie & Laura Bishton).
There are many more hidden heroes, as there always are in local theatre, who made this panto a big success.
It never fails to amaze me just what a professional overall production smaller theatre groups actually produce on a restricted budget, but time and time again they manage to come up trumps - or is that von humps -and deliver a highly entertaining show.
Oh, and before I forget, I must mention the stage crew and manager Ann-Marie Butler and Mandy Buckley, who also make an appearance, who we couldn't ignore!!
What a wonderful start to the weekend, just a shame that there weren't more audience members to share this wonderfully funny family show. But not to worry as there are three more chances to catch this panto......
“The Pied Piper” is at the Ravenshead Village Hall until Sunday 27 January 2019 when their final performance will be at 2.30pm. There is also a matinee on the Saturday and throughout the run you can get a family ticket of two adults and two children for just £25.00. What a bargain!

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

“Ali Baba and The Forty Thieves” by Burton Joyce Players
Burton Joyce Village Hall
Written by Julie Petrucci and Chris Shinn, they have created a wonderful piece of family entertainment that completely raised the roof of the Burton Joyce Village Hall, confirming what great support this theatre group has.
This was everything that a family panto should be. It had comedy that was understood by the kids and the adults. It had audience participation, which did not need much urging as the crowd of mainly kids laughed, cheered and sang along with the great range of songs, a mix of old and new, pop favourites from through the years, songs from the musicals and action songs.Some clever parodies mixed in with the straight numbers.
The story was strong and the acting was great and everyone joined in with the boo-ing of the baddies and cheering of the good guys (and gals).A nice injection of social comment surrounding mobile phones and social media and interaction, along with Brexit and Trump mentions.
I loved the lighting (Ryan Alston-Holmes), at times making you feel like you were in a night club, making the whole show an exciting visual affair.
The sound (Colin Woolley) was also excellent with the sound effects actually sounding like what they should do.
Great sets, especially the cave where Mustafa Lot stored his hidden treasures and the Baghdad market place.
The choreography (Jennifer Reckless) was great fun for all.
Directed by Kathy Matthews, the pace of the show was well observed, helped by the large stage crew and manager (Roger Harwood).
In fact the whole team involved in this pantomime worked like a well oiled piece of machinery, making this a really great, fun piece of theatre.
A large cast of 26 made sure that there was always someone and something to look at, also ensuring that the ensemble pieces were well fleshed out and sounded great.The mix of age ranges also made this a lovely family orientated viewing.
There are some real shining lights in this cast, Victoria Jones (Ali Baba), Gavin Alston-Holmes (Dame Baba), David Matthews (Genie), Patrick McDonough (Mustafa Lot), Chris Mercer (Bin Dozy), Adam Miller (Bin Lazy) and Caitlin Evans (Princess Jasmine), but all the cast were so very good, they were all on a par.
It's one of the most fun local pantos I've seen this year, which was definitely echoed by the packed and very enthusiastic audience. I almost felt I'd been invited to a party. One for sure to warm the cold nights that are expected this week.
“Ali Baba & The Forty Thieves” is at Burton Joyce Village Hall until Saturday 26 January 2019. Don't miss out on this one!
Pictures by Gavin Mawditt