20th January 2018
John Godber Centre, Hucknall
Type of Production
Author: Joyce Handbury
I introduced myself to this group and was invited to their production of ‘Sleeping Beauty’. After having a quick chat at the end of the performance I thought it strange that though they are totally based in the Hucknall area they had appeared on my ‘list’ of Societies. I later discovered that they are not in my District at all but had appeared on my ‘list’ due to a clerical error, but let’s put all that aside.
The show was written by twenty four year old local Primary School Teacher Tom Stevenson who incidentally performed in the show as Prince Dave. There were many references throughout to the local surroundings and to people in the news and indeed some of the characters had strangely familiar names - Pipper Crit, Prince Charles and Prince Harry all made appearances. There were some unusual changes, twists and turns from the classic fairy tale one being that Beauty didn’t prick her finger on a spinning wheel but stubbed her toe! The setting was simple with backcloths and props depicting the different scenes and action. Good use was made of the two entrances at the sides of the stage and of the auditorium whilst the taped music was effectively and creatively managed. A great lively, opening number, ‘Is this the Way to Start a Panto’, was just that and set the scene for what was to come. Sixteen year old Rhian McAleese was delightfully sweet and lovely as Princess Beauty and amazingly stayed on stage, in her deep sleep, during the interval. The role of Sparky was played by Jen White and she certainly did sparkle. Her comic timing and delivery, particularly of the many one-liners she was granted, was just great - a first class performance. The star of the show was undoubtedly Tom Stevenson as Prince Dave. He has such a natural stage presence and his ‘cheeky-chappie’ mannerisms both with his fellow actors and the audience were superb. I Loved his rendition of ‘Wherever You Will Go’ and the accompanying dance by the Adult Dancers (as listed in the programme, but I think it was Elise Radford and Owen Wright?) was so beautifully choreographed and executed. It was a truly brilliant performance from Tom. Playing a ‘dame’ for the first time was Samuel Burbage as Pipper Crit and didn’t he/she do well. I loved ‘The Dame’s Melody’ her twerking and other dance moves were so entertaining. Fine performances came from Tom Morley who certainly lived up to his name as King Bumble and from the sexy, sultry and most regal Paula Heeley as Queen Bea. Sixteen year olds Owen Wright (Prince Harry) and Josh Beet (Prince Charles) were a splendid comic duo, some of their antics were hilarious. Giving excellent support was Nadia Slack as The Witch, she definitely earned the boos and hisses that she received and what a great ‘cackle’ she had, Natalie Branley who was enchanting as The Good Fairy and I really liked the interpretation of The Chamberlain as delivered by Gregory Miller. Other named characters were Alex Walters and Abhi Sultania as Guards and Daniel Knight as Stage Hand. I loved Elise Radford, Travis Shooter, Mark Turner and Will Walker as the Goblins. Their make-up, their impish and mischievous actions were so engagingly accomplished. There were two groups of Junior Members who were involved at alternate shows and certainly the group that performed at my visit played their part, as did the whole cast, in making this a fun filled, entertaining and most enjoyable production. Credit must definitely go to writer Tom Stevenson for his inventiveness, humorous and innovative script and to the whole production team for their delivery of it. I’m sorry that this could be my only visit to the group but I wish you every success with future productions.