The Elves and the Shoemaker
21st February 2014
Needingworth Village Hall
Type of Production
Author: Bella Coleman
As always, with the Wellworth Players, I received a warm welcome by the front of house team. The village hall was packed and there was a lovely atmosphere of anticipation for the entertainment we were about to enjoy.
The Elves and the Shoemaker, written and directed by Karen Bays, was more like a festive play for children but with elements of pantomime woven in to the story. The sets were simple and made good use of the small acting area. Lighting was fairly basic but good and bright and sound was clear with every one of the cast projecting well, although I did have the advantage of a front row seat. Music was provided by Roger the pianist (an introduction not a command) and he interacted with the cast, which was a nice touch.
This panto was very child friendly both for the children in the audience and on the stage. I loved the fact that all the youngsters played a part and were not just in the background. They had lines and props and acted very well. I imagine there were lots of proud mums, dads and grandparents present. The Elves costumes looked good and every child spoke clearly and I'm sure, could be heard across the auditorium. Tez and Co, played by Hector Hand and Leon Mutter, were great bad guys and maintained their attitude throughout…well done!!!
There were good performances from the Elf and Safety Team, Francesca Mann and Alex South; Toy Soldier, Rag Doll and Jack in the Box, played by Chris Thompson, Laura Mitcham and Benjamin Carter…all gave lots of energy to their performances and some of their songs, cleverly re-written, were very well delivered and greatly appreciated by the audience. Also hugely popular were the ‘fairies’ and I use the term wisely. Head fairy, Gemma Marmalade, gave a bold performance with good comic timing and her reluctant side-kicks, Fairy Rose and Fairy Lily, wonderfully performed by Mark Ullyett and Dominic Sharp, produced panto gold with their comical campness.
Zon, Master of Suave, Paul Silver, gave us a marvellous villain with a booming voice and a less than kindly way with children, which was clear from the look on the little faces at the front, but he came good at the end. And then there was the ravishing Dame Dumplings, Neal Dench, who was every inch the Dame with outrageous hair, outrageous make-up, outrageous costumes and outrageous jokes, which were very funny and well delivered. Vi Parkinson played the rather regal Queen Violetta effortlessly and her understated asides were priceless. There were good solid performances also from the Cobbler and his wife, Mark Hebert and Lizzie Elliott; Santa and Mrs Santa, Simon West and Marie Quick; Molly, Kirsty Inman; The Mayor, Lawrence Hailstone…and the doubling of roles was seamless.
The entire cast performed with great energy and enthusiasm, which was contagious.
Karen Bays wrote and directed a charming pantomime, which was suitable for all ages. It was relevant to the community and extremely funny, both in the characters she created and in the written word.
This was a simply staged pantomime without special effects but what it lost in smoke and mirrors it gained in pure entertainment. The audience were the most enthusiastic I have witnessed and that says it all.
Well done to Karen and everyone involved in The Elves and the Shoemaker.