2nd February 2018
Tollesbury Village Hall
Type of Production
Author: Christine Davidson
A cold February night brought us to the village hall to Tollesbury Amateur Players (TAP). No display in the foyer this year which I must admit I was surprised at as last year it was utterly delightful and I was looking forward to seeing what they would do this year. The panto opened with a very modern Fairy Godmother in black business suit and mobile phone which she used instead of a wand. This was a clever concept by the author and he had her working for FariyGodmother.com which brought the panto into the modern age for the children watching. Alison Murray as Dot made the most of her role and later came on with blonde wig and sparkly dress much to the delight of the audience.
I must extend my compliments to the young TAP chorus members. They were all excellent throughout the show and all knew what to do and did it. I certainly spotted one or two with obvious stage presence. The Young TAP performers were on and off quite a lot in very cute costumes as the ensemble, dancing and singing and seemed to thoroughly enjoy being on stage.
Cinderella (Tricia Smith) arrived on stage with a multi-coloured smock dress on. Blonde and with rosy red cheeks she sung sweetly and had a good stage presence. In her transformation scene she returned in a beautiful blue sparkly dress and white wig which the audience applauded. Buttons (Jon Salmon) arrived with lots of energy and pace on stage although sometimes he did seem to forget his lines, which as usual delights a panto audience. He had a huge smile and great personality just right for the role. I loved his costume. In fact all of the costumes were excellent so a big congratulations to the Wardrobe mistresses Jo Pavey, Sue Hamilton and Jo Mason.
A Baroness Hardup (Alli Taylor) this time around, which was a nice change. She had a gorgeous steampunk dress and hat and it was nice to see this role reversal. Too often the roles for older women are few so I applaud TAP for swapping from Baron to Baroness. Completing this dysfunctional family were John Dorsett and Ian Clark as Gorgon and Zola, and what a fun pair they were. Gorgeous 20’s costumes and colourful wigs, I loved the fact that John kept his moustache. He really did look the Ugly sister. They flaunted their ‘beauty’ at every opportunity and worked the audience picking on one of the men to have fun with. Again sometimes lines and gags got lost and their singing was just a little out of tune but they had a lot of fun on stage and the audience loved them. They also had great projection so we did hear every word.
Dandini and Prince Charming (Sarah Legg and Shannon Sheldrick) worked well together. Both had stage presence and were engaging but sometimes they were a little quiet and maybe the use of mics might have helped especially when the Prince sang. I would have loved also to see a bit of panto thigh slapping from at least one of the characters. Snatchitt and Grabbit were a joy in their leather jackets and wonderful macho looks. Jackie Quilter and Joanne Smith worked together really well and obviously enjoyed getting their teeth into such fun roles.
I did wonder if some of the songs sung during the show were a bit old-fashioned. Maybe more up to date songs would have made the show more accessible to the younger children, although I did love the Stepsisters song ‘I feel like a woman’ which really was incredibly funny.
Sound (Tony Christie and Ian Clark)
Sound cues were missed at times especially during the end of the show when the cast were to sing one of their final numbers. This was a shame as sound cues do need to be spot on for pantos else it detracts from the comedy. Alison Murray as Dot was super when the phone cue didn’t come on by saying she had her phone on silent.
Lighting (Richard Maxwell)
Overall the lighting plot worked despite a couple of small hic-cups along the way but I could have done with harsher lighting on the muslin to enable backstage set changes to be masked. When muslin is used it really needs to be tight and over lit
The sets were varied, well painted and changed quickly by the stage crew behind muslin; the changes were obvious to the audience despite the muslin. A minor point but important, when the muslin was opened it was possible to be distracted by cast moving the muslin in the wings – this was in the sightline both stage left and stage right.
There were a number of prompts during the show and the pace was a little slow. The transformation scene did seem to go on a little too long. That being said the audience loved the show and the cast gave everyone a fun enthusiastic night’s entertainment. Well done to everyone for all your hard work. It really was appreciated by the audience on the night.