Players Youth Theatre
As the M People song goes, “What have you done today to make you feel proud?”
In this case it was the youth production of the pantomime, Cinderella. It is my understanding that this was a first for the Players Youth: to stage a full production of a pantomime, and totally cast from this element of the society, and to be delivered in such a professional manner. It is important for me to commend the hard work and dedication that the adults of the society give, such as Barbara Harris (director) and her assistant, Rob McGregor, to deliver such a thoroughly enjoyable production. It is only by being passionate and willing to share our craft that the next generation gets an opportunity to shine.
This pantomime, by Ben Crocker, followed the traditional tale. Prince Charming and Dandini trading places to deliver the Ball invitations to the people of the kingdom, and on the way meeting Cinderella and her two ugly sisters, Cheryl and Beryl, along with Baron Hardup (Harry Bailey) and his wife, Lady Devilia (Danielle Higson-Didd). At the Ball there was the loss of a shoe, and a Kingdom in which to search for the owner, so that the prince could marry his Cinderella.
We were introduced to the pantomime in traditional style, through rhyme, delivered confidently by Abby Walmsley, the Fairy Godmother, who narrated the story in rhyme throughout keeping us up to date on what was going on.
Poor Cinders was innocently played by Sara Morgan, who interacted well with all the other main characters. She became the focus of attention for the Prince, played confidently by Naomi Hunter. The Prince’s sidekick, Dandini (Mia Gibson), provided the audience with exasperated and knowing looks throughout and seemed to be enjoying the mayhem around her.
Not only was the Prince interested in Cinderella, but Adam Gibson engaged us with his shy, lovelorn character of Buttons. Now here was the lynchpin to the smooth running of this pantomime. Adam engaged with the audience at every opportunity and navigated us all through the scenes with a great sense of humour. We all loved the audience participation, especially he was getting younger audience members onto stage. He handled the ensuing hilarious chaos with patience. Ever thought of a career as a teacher or Blue Coat, Adam?
I was amazed at the level of maturity that Izzy Ekgren and James Schilling brought to the characters of Cheryl and Beryl. This comedy duo of the Ugly Sisters has to be played out to the audience so that it is fully engaged. “Oh, yes it does!”, there is no room for shyness. The players have to be able to ad-lib and not be phased by anything that goes awry. These two actors gave performances beyond their years. There was a great slap-stick kitchen scene, and the chasing around the audience was a hoot. Well done!
Another great comedy duo, whether they knew it or not, were Toby Metcalf and Li Chow, the Brokers Men, Snitch and Snatch. These two young men were so confident in their stage presence, moves and line delivery. A great job, guys.
All other players helped this production move at a good pace. Harry was the henpecked Baron, while his Baroness (Danielle) gave us a character to boo!
It seemed to me that this society had provided everything to the youth production that they would with one of their adult presentations. The scenery was minimal but effective creating the scenes, with good lighting to enhance the overall picture. The costumes for this pantomime were excellent. I am sure all those on stage appreciated the work that had gone into making them, especially that of the pantomime horse, Headle Chulme Champ.
Carol Ackers had created simple choreography that didn’t overwhelm abilities or the staging.
There were only two adults on stage. Margaret Williams, playing the keyboard accompaniment, and Val Middleton-Egan, who was the redundant, in the best possible way, continuity.
I am in no doubt that many of the adult society members helped in this production. What came across was the passion of theatre for the youth and the desire to nurture the arts. Bravo!
You can see the review HERE