Jack and the Ice Queen

Date 29th December 2021
Society Hertford Dramatic & Operatic Society
Venue Studio Theatre Bentley House Hertford
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Lorraine Bottomley
Musical Director Keith Willis
Choreographer Heidi Koutselinis
Written By Daniel Goode

Report

Author: Vicki Avery

What a warm welcome met me when I attended HD&OS’s pantomime at their Headquarters Studio Theatre at Bentley House. Covid rules were adhered to, to the letter and I doubt that any one of the small audience felt the least bit uneasy. I certainly did not. 

The rehearsal room, now converted into the Studio Theatre was imaginatively dressed. There was raked seating for the audience and the playing floor was set out with revolving flats painted in a picture book style. At the sides of the auditorium the walls were decorated with a sparkly ice trail in lights which denoted the difference between the two kingdoms, Rainbow Land, and the Ice Kingdom. A considerable amount of thought had gone into this set, and it worked faultlessly. Well done.

Julie Markey as The Good Fairy was perfectly cast. She instantly took command of the stage and set the scene for the story to come. The audience warmed to her immediately.

Michelle Wright as The Ice Queen was excellent as “the baddy” of the piece. Vocally very strong and with a presence that could not be ignored, the audience needed little encouragement to boo and hiss whenever she appeared. Good character portrayal here.

The three Princesses, jointly known as “Rainbow Mix” worked well together. Lizzie Droy as Sleeping Beauty, Sarah Comerford as Snow White and Niki Wolstenholme as Jasmine made a great girl band and vocal harmonies were on pointe. Projection and diction were clear and eye contact with each other enhanced the fact that they were working as a team together. Good direction here.

The three Princes likewise worked extremely well together. Hayley Payne, Sarah Luke and Sadie Cole each developed their own individual characters to complement their Princess partners. I particularly enjoyed Sadie Cole’s portrayal of Aladdin, proving that not all Princes are story book perfect and that sometimes they can show a comical side too. 

Jack, played by James Reynolds, was ideally cast as the main hero if the piece. His character linked the two sides of the story together and we never forgot that come what may he was heading for a fairy-tale ending. Vocals were secure and projection good.

Jack’s Mum was expertly played by experienced actor Jim Markey. Interaction with the audience was well managed and throw-away lines were well timed. Playing Dame is an art in itself and Jim was able to connect with both the cast and the audience simultaneously and get away with it. Well done!

Sami Underwood and Katerina Ayres took on the roles of Patsy and Edina, Cinderella’s Sisters and what fun they had with these characters. A perfectly matched pair, these two very experienced actresses put everything they had into their performance and the audience love them. They were rude, self-opinionated, visually styleless and loud. Everything one looks for in pantomime sisters. Having played an ugly sister myself I can fully appreciate the amount of fun these two must have had and now continue to have fun in their performance. Congratulations, I loved it.

Princess Grace played by Gem Anderson made a positive return to panto’ after a long break. Played with conviction and with good vocals this feisty princess was well matched with our hero Jack. There was a sensitivity in the performance at times which helped characterize a princess who knew her own mind but was willing to take a chance. 

I enjoyed Darren Jones as The Snowman very much. Though not a huge role, every opportunity was taken to enhance and develop the character and I am sure he would have been a great hit with the children in the audience at a family performance. I’m so glad he did not melt!

The Duke of Hertfordshire, though again not a huge role, was ably played by another experienced actor, David Bottomley. Commanding the stage with his presence, he worked well with all members of the cast and made excellent use of pause, change of pace and facial expression.

This was a very well-directed fun pantomime with a modern up to date script written by Daniel Goode. Lighting and sound were good and the video projection for the magic mirror was expertly managed. Makeup was satisfactory for a small venue and costumes were bright and colourful and wigs most appropriate for the different characters. I would have liked to have seen Princess Grace in a wig also as her own hair did not match the others in either body, fullness, or style. 

Nevertheless, congratulations to all involved in this super production, I really enjoyed myself and commend you all for your commitment during these difficult times.