There should always be room for a traditional panto
There's something inherently liberating about being able to boo and hiss someone and not feel in the least bit embarassed about it, writes Tony Parrat.
Yes it's panto time again and where better to see it than in the surrounding of a welcoming church hall packed with relatives and friends, familiar with all the heart-warming traditions of the genre.
Trinity Players production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs had virtually every generation of actor in it, which really did give it a lovely warm family feel.
But with some great set designs, stunning costumes and inspired musicianship from David Frost, there was nothing remotely amateurish about this Andy Johnson production.
Principal boo target as Queen Elvira was Linda Smith, who certainly earned all the wrath of the audience as she plotted to kill Snow White (Jasmine Merry) and win the hand of Prince Caspian (Kayleigh Brown).
But she was continually thwarted in her plans by a trio of haples, but kind-hearted souls, played by Sefton Winslade as Nurse Nellie, Matthew Smith as Muddles and Travis Merry as Igor.
These three had the crowd in hysterics and Sefton's over the top portrayal as the blousy nurse was hilarious, especially when he singled out one rather unfortunate male member of the audience, who was the target of his saucy entreaties.
Matthew and Travis showed a lot of promise as the two youngsters whose speciality was in the slapstick variety, especially one clever decorating scene where wallpaper and paste were plastered in every direction, except the right one.
Jasmine Merry, taking the title role, proved a fine actress, with a lovely singing voice, who combined perfectly with Kayleigh (Prince Caspian) in their duets.
Maureen Quittentton was all sparkle and magic as Fairy Snowdrop, who took us all into a world of fantasy,and to the home of the Seven Dwarfs, who helped to save Snow White.
And society stalwart John Simpson was a magisterial Lord Chancellor.
The " magnificent seven" were the perfect troupe, providing fun, laughter and sympathy, while also displaying nifty footworkas they burst into song with their trademark Hi Ho as they set off to work.
And credit must also be paid to the many young dancers and singers, who worked their little socks off and provided backing as villagers,ghosts and woodland animals Snow White and her gang , met on their adventures.
Say what you like, there is always room for a traditional panto, especially one where at the end, most of the cast walk off the stage, to be backslapped by their families and friends, for a great show.
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The Pantomime Alliance of Leicestershire held its 17th salute to panto on Saturday 24th March 2018 at Winstanley Community College, Braunstone Town Leicester. 19 local amateur dramatic groups from all over Leicestershire were all eagerly contesting the awards. 4 groups including ourselves were performing snippets of our panto on the evening. We were lucky enough to be nominated for 15 out of the 24 awards (which is unheard of) we went on to win 6 of the awards including the coverted Blue Balloon trophy for the best panto 2018, much to all of the cast and crews shock and excitement.
we received nominations for
Front of house - Lynn Bradley
Lighting - operated by Luke Winslade, programmed and designed by Aiden Johnson
Set design - Paul Smith
Costume - Lisa Merry, Marianne Smith and Brenda Frost
Singing - cast
Director - Andy Johnson assisted by Sally Sisson
Magical being - Maureen Quittenton as Fairy Snowdrop
Principal girl - Jasmine Merry as Snow White
Principal boy - Kayleigh Brown as Prince Caspian
the 6 awards we won
Special recognition for most uplifting opening song and santa - Andy Johnson, Lisa Merry
and Richard Bartlam as Santa
Cameo role - Sam Hicks as the white rabbit
Young male performer- Matthew Smith as Muddles
Young female performer - Grace Conant as Casey Dwarf
Comedy act - Travis Merry and Matthew Smith as Igor and Muddles
And then to top it all we won the Blue Balloon trophy for the best panto of the year.
All I can say is what a team!!!
Congratulations and thank you to you all for all your hard work both on and off the stage.
Roll on next year !
A purr-fect pre-Christmas treat was served up by the Trinity Players, with their fun-filled presentation of Puss In Boots last week. The award-winning group were once again on top form as they brought this perennial favourite to the Holy Trinity church hall stage.
They say there's 'nothing like-a-dame' and Sefton Winslade, as the widowed Wendy Miller certainly ensured his performance was unforgetable. His saucy innuendos and inter-play with fellow actors and audience alike, was spot on and he was perfectly aided and abetted by young comic duo Matthew Smith (Baz) and Travis Merry (Gaz). These two youngsters have come on in leaps and bounds and this year hit even greater heights. They really had the crowd with them as they were whooped and roared onto the stage with every entrance, in true panto style.
Jasmine Merry as Peter Miller, the son who is left Puss in his father's will, gave a very assured performance, way beyond her years, displaying a fine singing voice and acting ability, while Grace Conant as Puss, conveyed the ideal feline touches, as she helped her master on his quest to win the princesses' heart. Kayleigh Brown as the princess was ideal for this role, with a fine voice and acting skills to match.
Ruling over proceedings was Bruce Grant, as a very comical King Ferdinand, who was kept in constant check by the cash conscious Queen Avarice (Fiona Gurney). And I loved their 'Money' routine to illustrate that point!
Of course, panto kingdom has to have a baddie! In this case it was the evil ogre Grumbleguts; and Christian Badcoe certainly relished his role and literally squeezed it for all it was worth. A great performance once again for one so young.
While Janine Conant as a foghorn like Major Jump made not just the king and queen stand up and take notice, but everyone else in the hall too!
Two very funny sequences were when Wendy Miller and a hilarious cameo by Sally Whiston as an itallian chef were involved in a slapstick routine in the kitchen. And towards the end, when an actor revealed what she would be if not in the panto. Then followed a routine with other cast members singing 'If I Was Not Upon The Stage' with some hilarious results.
Last year's panto won the Players numerous Pantomime Alliance of Leicestershire awards including the prestigious best panto prize. And once again, under the direction of Andy Johnson and backed by a very youthful chorus, this proved another top notch winner with the capacity audiences.