National Operatic & Dramatic Association                               London Region

 Society                :  St  Peter Players
Production         :  Dick Whittington
 Date                     : 2 December 2018
 Venue                  :  Chalfont St Peter Community Centre
 Report by            :  Judith Watsham

Show Report

Thank you for your invitation to your 2018 pantomime, the second I have seen this season already.  Pantos just seem to start earlier and earlier every year.  This time, as I had a 4 year old with me, I really appreciated the fact that you supply foam cushions as it meant that she could see very well.  Incidentally, she was enraptured throughout and only moved to go up on stage towards the end – she told her mother that she gave it 10 out of 10 and loved it.

You are a group who really seems to understand what pantomime is all about and I applaud your choice of Ben Crocker’s scripts which are always just that little bit different whilst adhering to the traditional form of entertainment.

Your set which I noted was designed by your Stage Manager, Alan Caesar-Gordon, and built by members, was excellent with a bell shaped doorway for Fairy Bowbells’ and a grim looking tunnel for King Rat, both visible from the start, and they were well and appropriately used.  The design enabled Alan to make some clever fast, and silent, scene changes.

Directed by Steve Cubbage this was, from the audience’s perspective, a very well-staged and directed show with something for everyone.  Your use of the exits and entrances in the auditorium worked well and helped so much to achieve the necessary interaction with the audience.

The show was very well choreographed by Sophie Patterson, who also sang the opening song – a take on Good Morning Baltimore from Hairspray.  Sophie, your voice was ideally suited to this number and really set the bar high for the rest of the cast.  The chase scene was particularly well choreographed too.

I liked the crew’s T-shirts denoting their roles – and the band wearing the words Rat Pack on their backs was an amusing touch.

The musical side was under the very capable direction of Toby Stafford-Allen who I suspect was largely responsible for the varied choice of songs and also for rewriting some of the lyrics.  The small band played well, and the combination of live music and tracks worked. 

Ollie Bentley and Danae Manger who controlled the sound and pyros had I think a fair amount to do – and it was well done too with some excellent sound effects which worked with the lighting to produce the storm at sea.

Les Brewer’s lighting was always accurately focused just where it needed to be.

Ruth Corner and Liz Peskin did their usual great job as far as costumes were concerned and also took on the make up – King Rat’s was especially impressive ladies and the cat’s make up looked perfect.

Joan Carr and Janeta Kling provided some excellent and most appropriate props. 

You also had a clear and well designed programme, take a bow on this one Jo Sutton.  Congratulations too on getting advance publicity for your next three shows in and for some interesting cast notes.  No space inside for a mention of NODA and your many awards unfortunately otherwise I would have suggested entering it for the London Programme Awards.

Your chorus all worked hard and most importantly, all smiled and moved well, despite a stage which looked somewhat cramped at times.  Your singing was good especially in the Highgate Hill scene when you sang a version of the Les Mis number entitled Won’t you Join in our Crusade which was also very well staged.

King Rat, played by Barry Dell, was suitably menacing and evil but not too scary for the little ones – at least one of whom was fascinated throughout.  Your rock numbers were very well sung – especially Bat out of Hell.

Lucy Shirley as your opponent, Fairy Bow Bells, gave us a Cockney ‘goodie’ complete with a Fairy Liquid bottle with a straw – nice touch this.  I hope you had a suitable drink in there to keep you going?  Nice facial expressions too.

Matilda Patterson made a delightful Tommy the Cat with great ‘meows’ at suitable intervals.  Good uses of your expressive face too Matilda.  Your solo number was well sung.

The pantomime stock character of the lazy, rather gormless, lad – in this show Idle Jack – was well played by a very confident Sam Dell.  Excellent vocal projection Sam and some very good singing and acting too.

The Principal Boy, Dick Whittington, was well played by Imogen Bagley.  You really looked the part and displayed good stage presence; with your long legs you are an ideal person to fill this role.  You were confident all the time and your duet with Alice, I have been Changed from the musical Wicked, was especially well sung by both of you.

The Principal Girl, Alice Fitzwarren, was played by Sophie Webster and you were well paired with your Dick Whittington.  I have always felt that Principal Girl in panto is not the easiest to play as there is little to get your acting teeth into as it were!  However, you acted well and looked the part.

Alderman Fitzwarren/Captain Horatio Fitzwarren/The Emperor of Morocco – wow Nic Barton you had some quick costume changes here not to mention changes of accent.  All were well played and the hat throwing scene with Sarah was very funny.

Where would pantoland be without its Dame?  Simon Patterson’s Sarah the Cook was one of  the best I have seen.  Simon, I think you absolutely relished this part and your ad libs were skillfully done.  You had a good rapport with the audience at all times, Raining Men was well sung too.

The Ratettes supported King Rat well and gave us an interesting take on a belly dance; well performed Liz Peskin, Ruth Corner and Tina Barclay.

Last, but by no means least, The Mouse – Jess Sutton you showed great confidence and performed well.

A good, well written, expertly directed on all fronts, family friendly pantomime is a joy to see, and this year’s St Peter Players’ offering certainly fitted the bill.  Congratulations to all concerned.

Judith Watsham

Regional Rep NODA London 11 and 11A