Sinbad the Sailor

Date 1st November 2012
Society Dragon Tale Theatre Group
Venue Community High School Arts Centre, Prudhoe
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Wendy Neal
Musical Director Doug Younger
Choreographer Wendy Neal, Abi Neal, Ashleigh Young, Lisa Jones


Author: Michael L Avery

Being a person without children (everybody say “Aaah”) it is a long time since I have seen a pantomime.  This, I think, was the perfect re-introduction!  Firstly, consider the size of the cast – a chorus of 64 (mainly children), 89, yes 89, named cast members, including a little duplication for children in Teams 1 and 2.  The Stage Manager was called Kay French.  I suspect she deserved a medal but she and director, Wendy Neal, were helped out by 16 dance captains.  I haven’t seen that many named in a West End theatre programme!  I hope I have the numbers right.  My eyes were spinning by the time I counted all the names and deleted the duplications.  I don’t know how many of them were on stage the night I attended, but it looked as though they were all there  Whatever – this was an epic!!

I have no idea how closely the original Arabian Nights version of Sinbad was adhered to.  Again, it’s a long time since I read that, too. (I think it may have been in comic/cartoon form, that’s how we learned all our classics when I was a kid)  The story probably didn’t matter too much.  Suffice it to say, Sinbad himself (Michael Skoyles), was a pretty useless character, definitely not to be trusted in command of a ship.  However, the brightly coloured pageant whirled around him and, in the end, he got the Princess (Alanna Wilson).

Every now and then a song, well, actually a huge production number, interrupted the action.  The songs seemed to have only a very tenuous connection with the action but the audience loved them.  Me, I loved the villainess, Vicki Hurst, playing the wicked queen, Halapena (hot and spicy, geddit?), especially when she had an ad lib conversation with a curtain which refused to run across the stage.  I should perhaps also mention Hardtack (Ian Wilkin) who made me laugh out loud, involuntarily on numerous occasions.  I gather he usually plays the heavy.  That seems to be a waste.

With such a huge cast there were a few moments when the action got a little raggy, but all in all the show went pretty smoothly.  The small musical combo kept the action moving and manfully reminded us when to boo and hiss with the help of a reversible sign.  Actually, the audience needed no encouragement to boo Halapena who was roundly hissed to a stunned (but short) silence on more than one occasion.  But that just proved she was doing her job properly.

Perhaps due to my advancing years, I thought the show a little long but that was, perhaps inevitable with the size of the cast.  I was concerned children in the audience might get restive but no, I was the only one.  So, the show did what it said on the tin, it entertained an audience of mainly parent(s) and children all of whom left the auditorium with animated smiles on their faces to be greeted by the whole cast in the exit hall.  I got to shake hands with Halapena – result!!