The Pied Piper
26th January 2019
The Assembly Rooms, Bolsover
Type of Production
Leanne Collins, Mick Whitehouse
Author: Joyce Handbury
The Pied Piper of Hamelin is a story based on real events which has evolved over the years into a fairy tale. It tells of a town facing a rat infestation and a piper, dressed in a colourful coat, suddenly appears. He promised to get rid of the rats in return for payment. He did get rid of them but the town reneged on their promise. The furious piper later returned and led the children away, never to be seen again!
Alan Frayn is a prolific writer of fun-filled pantomime scripts that are regularly updated to include up-to-the-minute references to current events and people in the news. This pantomime certainly lives up to those ideals. It is set in Germany and adheres to the main outlines of the story but here we have a Burgomeister, two bungling rat catchers, a witch and the chief rat battling it out against a fairy, Dame Helga, the local sausage maker, and her children. The stage at the Assembly Rooms is small but a raised section at the back with steps leading up to it meant that cast members could make good use of this added facility and in addition, good use was made of the auditorium itself. The sets, depicting the various scenes, were designed and constructed by Ken Radmore and Mick Whitehouse, stunningly enhanced by Scenic Artists, Andrew and Sabina Aucock and complimented by excellent lighting effects, good props and stunning costumes. Every pantomime needs a good ‘Dame’ and in Paul Holland we not only had a ‘good one’ but an outstanding one - Helga. Paul’s stage presence, his delivery and comic timing, his rapport with cast members and the audience was just super and his performance was well matched by Gareth Elvidge, as his hapless son Willie, who was excellent. Blatter (Lyndsey Ashley) and Splatter (Nicky Constable) as the incompetent town rat catchers was a brilliant pairing. Their many antics were hilarious, they worked so well together delivering their witty lines effortlessly and both had a great rapport with the audience. The Burgomeister was suitably and pompously played by Istvan Koszegi and his son Hans (Donna Knowles) who was in love with Helga’s daughter Heidi (Laura Hulett) gave creditable portrayals. The good and the bad were wonderfully played by Ian Simpson as Fairy Strudel, Judith Doram as Sour-Kraut and Chris Peck as the snazzily dressed Rat-Worst. Keyleigh Constable was absolutely delightful as piper-playing Pippin, luring the rats away and later the children. The five children playing The Ratlets were superb - Freya Morris (Squeaky), Bethany Chambers (Beaky), Matthew Alsop (Cheeky), Ben Kelly (Leaky) and Alycia Wildgoose (Freaky) they were just great! The forty six members of the ensemble played Germanic townsfolk, Farmhands, Spirits of the Mountains and Kitchen helpers and each and every one of them, including some very young children, were just terrific. All of the musical numbers, whether full or in smaller groups, were so wonderfully and enthusiastically sung with the addition of simple but well executed choreography. There were some super full chorus numbers including, ‘Best Day of My Life’, the rousing song to ‘She is Handsome’ sung in the Bierkeller, The Rat and Ferret, the fabulous song ‘A Million Dreams’ and to close the show ‘Colour My World’. The stylish UV scene using wellington boots was very creative and among the many extremely funny scenes one that stood out for me was ‘The Sausage Stuffery’ where innuendos flowed, as you can imagine, and I loved the song ‘Sausages, Sausages’ sung to ‘Oom-pah-pah, Oom-pah-pah’. However good a script is, and this one was first class, it has to be delivered in such a way that the witticisms, the jokes, the humour and the format can be enjoyed by an audience. This group definitely delivered on all of those aspects which resulted in a tremendous fun-filled show. Congratulations to everyone involved in the production, it undoubtedly ‘Coloured My World’!