PUSS IN BOOTS
19th January 2018
Village Hall, North Creake
Type of Production
Author: Sue DuPont
The beginning of your 20th anniversary year with a splendid start to your celebrations.
An excellent script from Ben Crocker meant there was plenty of good material to exploit and certainly Harry Studd employed his large and very experienced cast to the full and did not miss any opportunities with all this talent abounding (in fact there was so much choice of talent that the production could have been cast in alternative mix and still have been the dazzling success of this first night). This production team of director Harry Studd, Robert Hill as M.D with such a clever mix of music, old and new, that worked for all, and some slick movement, led in the big company numbers by Phil Lance, pulled together a vibrant show.
In the magic kingdom the fairies have control in good versus evil, and certainly the portrayals of Priscilla (Evette Price) and Pernicia (Sally Wisken) were drawn in strong lines and excellent characterisations from this drama group, slightly different from the normal expected portrayals but clever roles that satisfied the most demanding of audiences, quite excellent.
In the traditional ‘brokers men’ roles of knock-about, gullibility, stupidity, team-working comedy, duped by ‘evil’, and with superb timing as these two experienced friends worked together, Jasper (Robin Hawkes) and Jethro (Richard Tree) gave a master-class in interpretation of these classic roles. And assisted with skill by Babs (Sally White) and Betty (Judith Kilbourn) as the ladies of their choice.
A very robust and sensible Jack the Miller’s Son from Karen Adams as she resolutely unscrambled the plot with strength and clear dialogue, very good relationships with both cats (mime and speaking), and pursued her dream of the attractive and sweet-voiced Esmerelda from Erin Tree.
To the Royal Family and what performances from Queen Wendy and King Wally, the contrasts perfect with the garrulous and dominating Queen from Phil Lance as a perfect Dame, full of herself and great with the comedy, movement and stage dominance, just what is needed from the dame with no tricks left out of the performance (including a stylish bedtime strip). But accompanying ‘her’ and with perhaps two lines in total uttered, Peter Autie showed once again that he is the master of facial expressions and a presence to watch, even if his queen tries to dominate, a great pairing for comedy moments.
Robert Kilbourn as Royal Page led the big numbers with vitality and example, and the chorus young and older gave their all; such good encouragement to the younger members of the company and how they blossomed with clear dialogue and strong singing.
Phil Lines led his Killer Rabbits into the fray and a chase sequence full of quality comedy that led to the downfall of Jasper and Jethro, certainly an episode not remembered in previous viewing of this title, but definitely star quality. And then resourceful in costume and voices change, he led his younger security forces as a Sarge in control.
To the title roles, double cast as a most appealing and delightful little Mime Puss from Olivia Sands with excellent and well-studied movements, and bursting on to the Creakes stage newcomer Vanessa McAuley in the most stylish, dominating, perfection in action and dialogue, a performance to relish with joy (keep her in the company), excellent interaction with all involved in the story and action of this pantomime. Must applaud the makeup department for the two cats and their stylish and excellent enhancement (even cat contact lenses for Puss!). And must mention the skilful effects for the transformations and transfers of the cats with the smoke and lights, faster than light.
Creakes has a reputation for such excellent sets and this was no exception: painted such that one might like to frame on your walls by Karen Adams and Chrissie Everard, and managed with skill by Tim Adams and team, this production was colourful with these sets and the costumes chosen with care.
And the cast member not mentioned, and it would not be Creakes without his presence, the Ogre Grimgrab played by Harry Studd in dominating style and masterful stage presence, not a large role but definitely remembered and feared by all on stage. And he managed to perform to his usual high standard in spite of concentrating so much talent into putting this production together.
Many choruses of ‘Run Rabbit’ from the packed audiences setting the noise level in the hall to echo the enjoyment of this pantomime.