Red Riding Hood

Date 11th January 2020
Society Orchard Players
Venue The Village Hall, Capel St Mary
Type of Production Pantomime
Director James Finbow
Musical Director Maria King
Choreographer Charlea Burwood, Bex Nicholls, Lynn Perera, Emma Cole
Assistant Director Glyn Hill

Report

Author: Mary Williamson

It is always a pleasure to come to an Orchard Players production as the Front of House team make every member of the audience feel truly welcome. It was really good to have a chance to talk to the directors before the show. Thank you.

The very talented band played a range of music before the action started which created a lively buzz in the large audience.

The opening scenes introduced us to the rather complicated plot and to all the characters in the show. We then very quickly met the 'Baddie', Baroness de Brexit, brilliantly played by Bex Nicholls. Her striking performance throughout the pantomime used every ounce of 'nastiness' which really gave the younger members of the audience something to 'boo'. The relationship with the subtly played 'Dull', Sandra Finbow, was so well done and I was delighted when the 'worm' eventually turned.

Another pairing which worked really well was the beautifully awkward relationship between Timmy and Bo Peep. Ray Seager's gentle 'homage' to Frank Spencer was so effective and his excellent rapport with the audience was a real strength of the piece. Lynn Perera's sweet natured Bo Peep gave just the right response and the audience was truly involved in their romance. I particularly enjoyed their duet 'Don't go Breaking my Heart'.

The heroine and hero of the story, Red Riding Hood and Peter, the Woodcutter were both very well played by Sophie Edwards and Molly Griffin. They showed a youthful joy and just the right amount of sweetness and thigh slapping.

Brian Spalding as Aunt Flo flirted, pranced and danced her way through the show as a real dame should. This was a strong performance with good characterisation. Her pursuit of any eligible male but particularly the hapless Lionel was most entertaining. I loved the varied, slightly outrageous costumes.

Poor earnest Lionel, played by Ian O'Hanlon, got his chance to be a very different character when he was transformed into the Wolf. This was cleverly done with a good voice change and appropriate costume.

PC Billy, Dani Withers, had a pivotal role to play. Making sure that the audience is following the plot is never easy but her timely interventions were vital to the show. Every appearance alerted the audience to what was going to happen next and she did this so well.

The three little pigs played by Gracie Seager, Amber Carney and Zac Scutcher were an interesting but relevant addition to the plot. They all played their parts really well and the younger members of the audience loved them.

The quality of singing and dancing throughout the cast was excellent. All the principals showed strong vocals and were ably supported by both the Adult and Junior chorus. The Floretts were so well choreographed in every number they performed. I particularly enjoyed 'I'm Coming Up' which demonstrated the quality of the backing group and was well enhanced by the lighting team. The dance sequence in the woods was another excellent number. Congratulations to the choreography team. The very deep stage does make it difficult sometimes to see the people at the back when the whole cast is on.

This was a joyful and very well performed pantomime. Every member of the cast showed a liveliness and commitment which gave the audience a great afternoon. The musicians, led by Maria King provided excellent support to the actors. The costumes were brilliant and colourful. I really loved the whole style of the Baroness de Brexit. The lighting and sound always enhanced the action.

Congratulations to the Director James Finbow and Assistant Director Glyn Hill on a lively and thoroughly enjoyable pantomime. The audience, both young and not so young, had a great afternoon.