The Pied Piper of Hamlyn
The anticipation of the audience was visible on my arrival to the venue, children and adults alike all waiting for the opening of the village’s annual pantomime. Having now seen the production I can see why there was such excitement. A few words to describe this production, energetic, hilarious, slick, colourful and engaging. An excellent script by Peter Long & Keith Rawnsley was packed with fun and so many wonderful opportunities for support roles.
The venue was homely providing a small stage to work upon but the director in this case used all the available space most effectively, using the auditorium for parts of scenes really engaged the audience… great move! Every aspect of staging was given great care to avoid the look of over-crowding, how this was achieved was a wonder to me as the stage was very small, great job. Director John Hickey achieved good pace and the production flowed very well, it was a very well put together show with no opportunity for comedy passed up. There was a great flare for comedy within the cast which is quite important when presenting a script as funny as this one. For first time director John this was a triumph and one you should be very proud off. I expect to see you taking the helm on future productions.
Set design was most extraordinary again when you are faced with such a small, tight area, the team behind the set design achieved a structure which provided just what was required for each scene. Some excellent set pieces caught my eye, stunning chairs in the Mayor’s office, the execution of serving dinner to the mayor’s party, (the rat puppets worked very well at this point) and the art work on the set was great. I was delighted to hear that everything I saw was created in-house, another great quality I find in this group.
Musically, there sits within this group some excellent vocals and even more potential in the supporting roles I saw, with some guidance and an appointed musical director or chorus mistress the confidence to sing out will improve. Standout vocal on the day came from Jayne Harnick, her performance of “Holding out for a Hero” was great.
Choreography was good, giving the ensemble a chance to showcase themselves, I loved the routine by the three ladies during “Holding out for a Hero” and “I would walk five hundred miles”, towards the end of the show was for me beautifully executed, touching and very slick.
The casting of this production was of a good quality, so many wonderful characterisations throughout. Story Teller, Sue Sefton, gave a good delivery of her part, narrating the story as it moves along. I really liked this role as it was empathetic to the story and the characters.
Countess Baddanvile played viciously by Lavinia Hunt, a great performer who relevelled in playing a baddie, she came good in the end which was a lovely twist for this story.
Girda, Mary Anne Gleeson, the dame for this production gave a powerhouse performance of the role, exceptionally funny and very engaging, she gave the audience everything they wanted from the dame. Fantastic comic timing, the stage lit up every time she appeared.
Gretchen played by Amy Ratcliffe was beautiful on stage, she had good energy throughout and worked very well with Heinz, another good comedic actress. Heinz played by Isabella Nash, did an excellent job for one so young, she created a great role and acted very well in her scenes. I loved her performance with Amy of “Be Our Guest”.
Heidi, played by a very talented lady, Jayne Harnick. I thoroughly enjoyed this performance and felt she was very strong throughout, never letting her character slip and as fore-mentioned, a cracking voice.
Rob Minjoot as the Mayor, didn’t really get much opportunity to show himself off on this occasion as the role was quite small, however he delivered the role well. We caught a glimpse of his ability in the “Dad’s Army” mock -up, this was a hoot.
Megan Ratcliffe as the Pied Piper, was well cast in this role, she gave a very confident performance. A nice voice which I expect will improve with some guidance and training.
Hermani & Boris must be spoken about as a duo as they worked so effectively as the Rat catchers, excellent characterisations for these young players, comedic timing that would be the envy of a seasoned player. Jessica Ratcliffe has a lovely voice and certainly one to watch what a confident performance she gave, whilst her side-kick Matthew Gleeson played dumb rather well.
Hans and Martha the ever-babbling children of the mayor were played credibly by Harry Allen and Katelyn Halsall-Jolley, two very young performers. Lovely acting form this pair, they worked well with each other and conveyed the child-like squabbling required. Harry, has a flare for comedy, the sick bag joke was executed very well.
Other supporting roles were delivered well each having a unique character within the production, I love to see real characters even within ensemble numbers. They remained committed throughout and were a joy to watch, from the very young to the not so young, each one gave a hundred percent to the performance.
This was an excellent production and whilst taking into consideration the lack of facilities, this group did themselves proud. I forgot I was in a village hall! I was taken on a journey to Hamelin and met some wonderful characters. I am amazed by this group’s ability, their warmth and honest approach to theatre.
They clearly play a massive role within their community by nurturing the young players that come through and staging great productions. Testament to their success is there existence in this small community for 34 years.
Thank you for a great afternoon of laughter and fun.