The Princess and the Pea

Date 3rd February 2024
Society Audlem Theatre Company
Venue Audlem Public Hall
Type of Production Pantomime
Director David Davenport
Musical Director Ellie O'Grady
Choreographer Faye Thomson-Butt
Producer Stuart Furber & Laura Furber
Written By Andrew Potter


Author: Jake Powell

Firstly, a warm welcome back to NODA Audlem Theatre Company! Audlem Theatre Company were back onstage with their annual pantomime. This year’s offering was ‘The Princess and the Pea’, directed by David Davenport. Perhaps not a common pantomime, it was interesting to see how this tale transferred to the stage in this genre. The script was good, allowing everyone to be involved from the young performers to the adult cast. The names of the characters were inspired with many pea puns. The general direction from David was good, and the cast worked well on the small stage. There were traditional pantomime scenes, including the ghost scene and a slop scene, which were both good. On the whole, pace was good from the cast. The pace slowed during the songs, as the songs were performed in their entirety. It just meant that the pace had to be picked up following each song. The interactions between the cast were good. The set was good with backcloths for different scenes. The kitchen set was good, folding out to create the kitchen. Costumes were traditional, which worked. One of the highlights of pantomime is seeing the array of costumes for the dame. Unfortunately, this was missed here. The audience were vocal throughout and very appreciative, so well done.

The musical director was Ellie O’Grady, who also performed as the principal boy.  The cast performed to backing tracks, which they did well with. There were some lovely vocal performances from the cast.

The choreographer for ‘The Princess and the Pea’ was Faye Thomson-Butt. The choreography was simple enough for everyone to perform. A bit more attack when performing the choreography would have elevated the routines.

The technical elements were relatively simple, and executed well. The principal cast were miked, and the sound balance between them, the backing tracks and the rest of the cast was good. Lighting was a general wash, which was fine as nothing else was needed.

The title character, Princess Blossom, was played by Sarah Ainsworth. Sarah did well with this character – the complete opposite of a damsel in distress! She was strong, feisty and knew her own mind. Sarah’s vocals were good, and she delivered her numbers well. It was a very good performance from Sarah.

Our principal boy, Prince Legume, was played by Ellie O’Grady. Going against the norms of a typical principal boy, Ellie performed the role well and looked the part. Ellie’s vocals were very good, creating good harmonies in her duets with Sarah.

Mrs Marrowfat, the pantomime dame, was played by Robert Russell. Robert did well playing the dame. Robert worked well with the rest of the cast, building a good rapport with them. There was some good interaction with the audience, especially with the chosen audience member. Robert could have been more over-the-top in the role to build on the comedy.

The star of the pantomime was Tobias Dinsdale as Mushy. A confident performance from someone so young – he could give any seasoned panto comic performer a run for their money! Tobias was a firm favourite with the audience and held them in the palm of his hand. A natural funny bone, good interactions with the cast and the audience, and a pleasing vocal.

Stuart Furber and Helen Meyrick played King Kelvedon and Queen Sugarsnap respectively. Stuart played the henpecked King well, and had some funny lines. If anything, just be more secure with your lines. Helen provided a great characterisation as Queen Sugarsnap. It was suitably over-the-top and a great comic support.

The villainous duo, Lord Mildew and Lady Maggoty, were played by Paul Turner and Helen Katterloher. Both relished the boos that the audience rained down on them. There was some good comedy from both, and some good audience interaction from Paul. It was obvious that both Paul and Helen were having fun performing with each other.

Rebecca Dutton gave a confident and assured performance as Narrator guiding the audience through the story. Rebecca had good diction and projection, which is essential for playing a role such as the Narrator.

The young performers did very well performing alongside the adults. They all looked like they were enjoying themselves on stage, which is all that can be asked for! Some notable performances from the youth were Riley Morris as Mangetout, who was at ease working the audience, Jackson Hodgkins and Elliot Waddington proved to be a good double act as Ant and Dec, and Thea Beau Waddington was confident beyond her years as Princess Hamenpeezup.

Overall, this was an enjoyable production. Some good performances, a strong sense of community, and a strong youth contingent.

A big thank you to everyone at Audlem Theatre Company for their kind invite and hospitality.