Pinocchio with a twist written by Beverley Beveridge

Date 4th February 2017
Society Benenden Players
Venue Benenden Village Hall
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Beverley Beveridge
Musical Director Graham Beveridge
Choreographer Fiona Boorman


Author: Anne Lawson

Each years panto has had a slightly different twist on the norm this year being no exception. Beverley’s ideas are amazing using a basic story adding up-to-the-moment events and characters, terrific local leg-pulling, innuendo and audience participation and, this year, incorporating juvenile characters.

Alongside traditional Dame Mona, married to toy-maker Gepetto, Fairy Chardonnay, notable political figures and a larger than life Shrek - all ending up at Trumpo Towers! With mighty fairy powers dastardly Donny Trumpo was brought to justice, Pinocchio becomes a real boy after proving himself kind, honest and true. The twist was not the nose extension on Pinocchio’s fibbing but a varying amount of flatulence aided and abetted by Shrek giving a different slant on fracking!

The other half of the Beveridge dream team worked his musical magic, assisted by his band using many well-known pieces.  Added this year was the expertise of Fiona Boorman whose choreographed and well-rehearsed movement enhanced the aesthetics. The most attractive colourful A5 programme was designed by Cogent Partnership.  Content was interesting, with acknowledgements, easy to read and containing rehearsal clips - exuding fun throughout.  I am forwarding copies for the next NODA S E programme competition.

The H & S introduction came from competent and master of Italian English, Gepetto toy-maker aka Peter Ellis.  Accents were extended to Mona his wife (Ian Malaugh), a strong Scottish lilt from Shrek (Grant Matthews) and a fine, very Yorkshire fairy (Debbie Katis).  All well maintained throughout, not forgetting mincing butler Jeeves (Michael Patrick), all-American Donut Donny (Mark Reid) plus Mummy (Angela Patrick), ‘I er don’t know nothing’ servant Archie Bunch, plus terrific young politicians Theresa (Kitty Hind), Boris (Orla Morris), Jeremy, well understudied by Nigel (Roseanne Nicol), Hilary (Primrose Reid) with David (Hector Powell).

Each side of the stage stood giant wooden soldiers. Stage setting was beautiful, with delicate backdrops – sparkling gauzes, a very strong green swamp scene, interesting interiors including the toy shop, the grand opulent but tacky Trumpo Towers with bars for the prisoners, plus a suitable cage to hold such a monster. A beautiful flying star and finale musical note backdrop, magical. Lighting and special effects, perfect. Props including Pinocchio puppets, good movable counter, colourful throne, cot etc. Praise to the large team of assistants.  Sound was excellent throughout, well cued.  SM John Clarke was supported by his crew including willing parents.

Costumes, both challenging and many, were first class headed by Ruth Clarke together with Dee and Kath. Attention to detail throughout.  Dancers with flashing lights, pretty headdresses, wands, Pinocchio’s red shorts and then Gepetto’s too. Maroon & silver for the fairy, flamboyant Mona, Trumpo’s stars and stripes, tight red pants and cowboy boots, Mrs T in blue sequin gown.  Wigs to match characters.  I particularly liked Rosy Cheeks (Louise Clarke) in green tartan, sash and hair ribbon, singing her solo with aplomb.  Villagers spoke up well and wore national costume.  Excellent makeup and face painting. Good characterisation by bunnies.

Hard work paid off – a few ad libs added to the laughter. Creditable adult cast. A special mention of Katelyn Malaugh’s solid interpretation of Pinocchio as wooden puppet and ‘real boy’.  Named village children played by Tabby, Rosa, Sasha, and Billy worked very well together and gave confident performances.  Comic pairing of the two bugs, Lucy and Holly as Deathwatch and Woodworm with sound effects and expressive movements delightful. Chaperones too should have a pat on the back.  Singing was strong throughout while co-opted gentlemen of the audience took on the challenge of ‘My Way’ Dance movements well set and executed.