Robin Hood

Date 14th January 2023
Society Winton Players
Venue Festival Hall, Petersfield
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Sarah Whitaker
Musical Director Tony Blackford

Report

Author: Mark Donalds

Winton Players’ production of Robin Hood was yet another casualty of Covid because the Festival Hall was being used as a vaccination centre, so we had to wait an extra year for it, but boy, was it worth the wait!

On entering the auditorium, we were greeted by the most spectacular set, designed by Jane Blower and put together by the ‘Artful Bodgers’. We really felt like we were in the depths of Sherwood Forest, and this single set was used throughout with the addition of a backcloth, or just some furniture. It was most effective and enabled swift scene changes by the costumed stage crew. The set was enhanced no end by beautiful lighting (designed by Tom Pearce of the Green A Team), which continued to stun us throughout the show. Props were excellent too (Laura Sheppard and team) - I particularly liked the pizza oven!

Director Sarah Whitaker has assembled a cast of (it seemed) thousands, all costumed in colourful and bright attire (take a bow the ‘Wardrobe Wizards’) and I was particularly impressed with the footwear – it all very much looked the part, hard to achieve with such a big cast.

The script employed two narrators to move the story along and John Whitaker as Lincoln Green performed this task admirably along with his sidekick Theo Lacey as Alan-a-Dale. They helped distract us from the scene changes and Theo in particular amused us with his light switch moments and paper bag tricks. Just two example of the nice directorial touches applied throughout the show. Although the cast kept up a cracking pace, I felt that Act 1 was maybe a little too long for the attention span of the youngsters in the audience.

Tara Taylor was on good, thigh-slapping form as Robin Hood and worked (and sang) well with Joanne Stephenson as a feisty Maid Marion. Joff Lacey made an excellent Dame, Nurse Nellie, interacting well with the audience and getting them whipped up, shouting the responses. Paula Currie and Nicola Hillyer, as Bow and Arrow, made delightful genial idiots, changing sides to work for Robin Hood, while Phillip Humphries obviously relished his role as the baddie, The Sheriff of Nottingham, ably assisted by Martin Johnson as the rather reluctant, Sir Guy of Gisborne. The Merry Men (and Women) were too numerous to mention individually, but Roger Wettone particularly impressed as Friar Tuck, always the voice of reason, looking and sounding perfect in the role.

Songs and music were very well chosen (although I did notice that you wisely cut the difficult-to-learn verses of Busy Doing Nothing!) and the standard of singing and movement throughout was very good, with a mixture of live music from MD Tony Blackford and Drummer Will Mc Currach, and a few recorded tracks. Sound quality throughout was excellent (thanks to Dom Turner of Green A Team) and there were no problems hearing anyone in the cast. Best of all, everyone on stage, especially all the youngsters, looked like they were having a great time, and that always comes across to the audience.

As you could probably tell from the response of the audience at the end, we all had a great time. Thank you for making this a show to remember!