Date 13th July 2019
Society Heckington Players Amateur Dramatic Society
Venue Heckington Village Hall
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Kei Bailey
Producer Paula Barlow


Author: Andrew Key

This was a production by the Youth Theatre section of The Players

How long it seems since we visited pantoland at the beginning of the year – and how much has happened in the months since. But there was no need to wait a whole year in Heckington for a return to the magic, as the Heckington Players Youth Theatre presented their summer show, ‘Rapunzel’.

As the programme said, ‘There’s magic in the hair’ – and indeed there was – helped along by Kei Bailey’s sparkling script, packed full of the very best panto humour and jokes. My favourite? ‘A book fell on my head – I’ve only got my shelf to blame!’

The bright and breezy opening number, ‘I’ve Got a Feeling’ set the scene for an evening of great entertainment – lots of smiles from all the cast, great costumes, slick choreography – and well rehearsed moves – including from those in the back row – yes – I was especially watching you – brilliant!

The entrance of the ‘Swindell’ crew was great – what a moustache Archie King was sporting as the conniving, money swindling ringmaster – surpassed only by the beard on Danielle Potter’s Bearded Lady. Jessica Greenfield completed the tricky threesome – a great combination of actors who made their mark throughout the production.

I loved the local references in the script – including this town ‘Can’t be worse than Sleaford!’ And all the slick comedy routines – the ‘Last Word, Somewhere Else’ and  ‘I owe you £2’ gags were word perfect – the latter showing too how inflation has affected even the world of panto as it was only £1 when I did a similar routine many years ago!

I enjoyed the knockabout humour of all the gang of clowns and circus performers.  Well done to you all. The magic hat scene was very well done. And as for ‘Gigglebottom’ – what a miserable clown – well played!

Dame Hilda Hogwash was also played to great effect by Regan Skinner – you had great comic timing Regan and dealt with the audience heckles brilliantly! Her side kick, Milly Dilly-Dally – was played superbly by Amelia Barlow – so bouncy and great with the audience – you brightened my day! I loved the escaping sausages routine.

Holly Walker gave an assured performance in the title role of Rapunzel – and I thought that great long ponytail was fabulous. Rhiannon Clarkson was suitably wicked as Mistress Grimelda Hemlock – what a name! She garnered plenty of boos from the audience as the story unfolded.

Isabelle Cottrell played the love struck Prince, destined to be with Rapunzel,  to great effect – and I especially enjoyed the performance of the smelly little urchin who was his sidekick - Wormsley – Dylan Goddard. As was said of him – ‘the wheel’s still turning but the hamster’s dead.’ And one of his best lines – ‘you know what they say about denial? Its not just a river in France.’ Dylan – you have really good stage presence and comic timing – great casting for this part – if you are really a cub I’m sure you have more than one cub badge for goldfish training. Whatever you do, don’t give up the acting!

Joe Hall was Rufus Bluster – the long suffering Mayor of Sleepy Head – what clear and well spoken words – great projection – so important on the stage. Abi Dowding and Natasha Priestley as his assistants complimented Joe’s role so efficiently – a great casting of all three parts.

The beginning of Act Two went down well with the audience – a well rehearsed dance routine to ‘The Greatest Show’ – and still plenty of smiles all round. Ruby Borchardt and Cara Gray were suitably Spangly trapeze artists – whilst Finlay Coote was great as the short-sighted – and funny, knife thrower – excelling too as the dancing, groovy gorilla in act two! What a scene stealer – and not a word to remember. Great visual humour – and well done for not distracting the audience too much from the unfolding story.

The fortune tellers, Alice Constantine and Bethany Kay were very good in moving the story along – well done for remembering all those lines and information.

The notorious Heckington ghost gag was executed to perfection by the young cast – no doubt having been party to seeing it so many times performed by the senior players – you certainly gave them a run for their money and kept this annual tradition alive and kicking in the village hall! The chase scene was efficiently carried out – including Wormsley with his performing goldfish.

The reunion of the Mayor, with his long lost daughter – who was Rapunzel – was touching played – well done to everyone in this scene And in the end it was the power of Rapunzel’s hair that saved the day for everyone.

The walkdowns were very well practiced and brought to a close a most enjoyable night’s escapism to pantoland, Heckington style.

Congratulations to Kei Bailey and Paula Barlow and all the production team on a very slick and well rehearsed show.

With any Youth Production, I know its success also depends on the support of so many other people – from the chaparones, front of house, older members, parents and families – thank you for making this all possible. And I do hope all the children enjoy a well deserved summer holiday, returning refreshed for the challenges of the new term at Heckington Youth Theatre. For those members not returning after the summer, I’m sure the experience you have had as a member of the team will stand you in good stead for the future – do continue to enjoy taking part in drama, wherever life leads you.

Andrew Key