30th October 2015
Dragon Tale Theatre Group
Prudhoe Community High School Arts Centre
Type of Production
Wendy Neal, Abi Neal
Author: Michael L.Avery
When my invitation from Dragon Tale arrives, I realise pantomime season is about to arrive and Christmas is almost upon us. I also know I’ll be seeing a traditional pantomime with much natural humour, courtesy of Neil Wilkin who, hopefully, will be playing the comic lead (he was), a pretty leading lady or two (there were), an evil villainess (Vicki Wilkin, spitting out her venom, which she was) and a stage company and audience, comprising much of the younger population of Prudhoe. These pantos.are a real community effort, audiences hissing and booing (on cue) enthusiastically.
Confession time - guest, Pat Smith, and I arrived late, courtesy of my night-time navigation skills. So, we were on the front row in Neil’s direct sight-line. He just happened to be laden with heavy plastic bags and noticed Pat’s cushion which she’d hoped to sneak out of her plastic bag unnoticed. No chance. Fortunately, she is a performer herself and entered into a bit of verbal business, loved by the audience, and earning a cup of tea. Perhaps you had to be there, but you get the idea.
As always, the cast was huge. 62 named parts, dancers and chorus. There are one or two I would like to mention, apart from Neil and Vicki. Samantha Macbeth, playing a delightful Princess Aurora, had a very pleasing stage presence and a promising voice; and a very young lady, Imogen Thorndycraft-Park, played a short but authoritative French chef with an amusing “Franglaise” accent.
Lauren Young, Erin Collins and Molly Holmes were entrancing fairies; Anthony Johnson was Neil’s partner in crime as the “dame”, Nursie, creating quite a double act. Ashleigh Young, playing the Court Doctor, provided Neil with a cue to mention the local GP (I presume), which was lost on Pat and me, but raised quite a laugh. It was that kind of show.
The plot was standard Sleeping Beauty with a plethora of characters from other pantomimes incorporated. The four piece band did a fine job, covering the diverse musical styles the interpolated numbers required. The children in the cast sang and danced enthusiastically. The programme named two dance leaders, a show co-ordinator plus two choreographers, stage manager, MD and Producer. Quite a challenge manoeuvring a cast this size but they pulled it off, giving Prudhoe an entertaining countdown to Christmas.