Goldilocks and the Three Bears
30th October 2013
Dragon Tale Theatre Group
Prudhoe Community High School Arts Centre
Type of Production
Wendy Neal, Abi Neal
Author: Michael L. Avery
This time last year I was confessing to visiting my first pantomime for over 20 years. I have seen quite a few since then and here I am, back where I started, with Dragon Tale Theatre Group. I enjoy visiting this company. Each production seems like a very inclusive party, involving everybody on stage and in the audience. This year they presented another traditional panto, with “Goldilocks”. As the basic plot is very familiar, I’ll just say that Hayley Baxter as Goldilocks finds herself having to save her village from an awful fate. En route, she visits the house of the Three Bears and makes free with their porridge. Bad move!
The on-stage company at Dragon Tale is huge. According to the programme there was a potential cast of over 97, including two teams of dancers!! I gather that, on the night of my visit, the full complement was not present, but the floor looked pretty full. It must be a logistical nightmare for Producer, Wendy Neal, and Stage Manager, Kay French. Fortunately, there are almost as many people working in support roles as there are on stage.
So much for my wonderment, what about the show? Well, it was great fun. With so many performers on stage it was occasionally a little scrappy around the edges but that was due to sheer numbers and the very young age of some of the cast. It did not really matter. Every person on stage was clearly there to enjoy themselves and to make sure the audience had a good time, as well. Since that audience seemed to be made up primarily of friends and family, there was little fear of them not entering into the spirit of the whole endeavour. The fact that there was a team responsible for “audience participation” ensured a suitable response from the audience when required. A placard with “Boo” and “Hiss” on it was regularly raised whenever Ashley Punton, as the Queen Bee, stomped on stage with her entourage. The bees were Lyndsay Young, Josh Lowes, Elizabeth Mould, Chloe Heslop and Amy Keirl as, respectively, Penelobee, Buzzbee, Barnabee, Phoebee and Calamabee. I think Ashley occasionally had us booing without any encouragement.
I remembered Vicki Hurst from Sinbad, last year, but she wasn’t the Wicked Queen this time. She played Ray, the son of the Dame, Auntie Septic (Daniel Gowens). Ray was supposed to be a little bit simple but, as played by shiney-faced Vicki. I thought she was more “crazy like a fox”, a bit of a fixer!. I think I may also be warming to pantomime dames. They always frightened me when I was a youngster but Daniel may be helping me overcome my phobia. I also recognised Stephen Young and Neil Wilkin as comedy duo Splinter and Choppit. They are a very funny duo, even (especially!) when they wander off script. It is really iniquitous to pick out individuals in an ensemble performance like this. Everybody from the adults to the youngest of the children added to the general feel good ambience of the evening.