National Operatic & Dramatic Association London Region
It was nice to have the opportunity to meet your Director Kirstin Stansfield before the start. I think this was a fairly difficult show to direct – relying as it did on a depleted cast, most of whom had to play several parts. The fact that the cast was so small meant that the musical numbers with canned musical accompaniment did not really work very well. MD Emma Darwood must have had her work cut out trying to achieve enough volume and musicality in this respect. It is also a difficult one because Stuart Paterson, the author, wrote it as a cross between pantomime and children’s play and it doesn’t quite work as either. However, Kirstin and Emma certainly did their level best and the result was an evening which was enjoyed by my granddaughter as well as myself.
Congratulations on your well laid out programme and, as the seating was at tables liberally supplied with nibbles as well as pencils, it was a good idea to have puzzles and colouring for children to do whilst waiting for the performance to start.
The set, designed by your Stage Manager Alan Caesar Gordon and built by Alan with the assistance of some of the cast, was good. I especially liked the giant snowflakes around the pros arch and the snow and icicles which edged both the stage and the steps and set the scene right from the start. The exploding mirror worked very well indeed and was impressive.
Lighting, Les Brewer, was good with some excellent effects.
Sound, Ollie Bentley and Rob Paines was in general good. However I found the sound of the wind, excellent though this effect was, slightly too loud at times as it drowned out dialogue. There was I think a slight glitch too when the action of the hammer did not match the sound of the strike.
Janetta King and Joan Carr were on props and, as usual with the Players, these were good.
Ruth Corner and Liz Peskin were responsible for the effective costumes; notably those for for Bhima and the Snow Queen. I loved the multi legged outfit you provided for the spider too. The costumes worn by the two ravens, Peck and Scruff, were excellent and Ruth’s make up, again especially for Bhima, the Snow Queen, the ravens and the two bears was effective.
Ruth Corner played sun spirit, Bhima, effectively but had to double as Soft Bear where, Ruth, you excelled.
Lucy Shirley took the part of Cobweb Spider which you played in a suitably evil manner. You also managed your many legs very adroitly.
I know that Liz Peskin likes to play baddies, which, Liz, you do very well. I missed your comedic talents this year though. You were totally in character as The Snow Queen throughout and were one of the few who did not have to double up – just as well as the make-up would have presented a big problem!
Louis Stansfield’s portrayal of the young boy, Kay, was believable. You developed the character well and actually had the stance of a young boy at times. Well played.
Nice to see Jane Rawlinson back after hospitalization made her drop out of the cast of your summer production at the last moment. Your Gerda was believable and you too had the posture of a young girl at times. Very good.
Wendy Graham gave us a portrayal of a Grandma who was rather vague but not quite batty as your programme notes suggest – and you played your other parts well, especially the Ice Ghost – the voice you used for this was effective.
Steve Cubbage – you too had to manage several parts. Your Tough Bear was very good as was your portrayal of the robber Muscles. However, as Scruff I felt you had not really got to grips with the way a raven moves!
Tina Barclay, as the other raven Peck, had got this just right. I loved your raven strut and head movements which added so much to your characterisation. In the very different role of the Robber Woman you were also very believable – two good portrayals.
Clare Jenkins also had a couple of roles, Princess and Niko. You played Princess Lena as a pretty, rather empty headed character which worked very well.
Natalie Nicholls brought the panto side of the show out with her principal boy Prince. Well played.
Graham Caesar Gordon had the very contrasting roles of King Grin and Reindeer. Well done.
Finally, Janeta Kling had to get to grips with the parts of Grab and an Ice Ghost – particularly effective floating around the stage as the latter I thought.
I think one of the main problems you have when you are forced into so much doubling, and even trebling, is that some of the cast find it hard to get into the right mindsets. Those few with just one part, The Snow Queen, Spider and Gerda, were all totally in character throughout and had obviously understood the roles they were playing and had worked hard on them.
Thank you again for inviting me and I look forward to your next production.
Regional Rep NODA London 11A