As seems usual now for February, I found the village of Blyth nestled in a fine duvet of snow as I arrived to enjoy Blyth Players’ 2012 panto.
Inside Barnby Memorial Hall there was a warm welcome and a chatty audience eagerly awaited a performance of Jack and the Beanstalk. My guest and I then settled down to experience what proved to be oh so funny an evening, with gags galore and a laugh every minute.
Laugh is a bit of an understatement though, as personally I laughed until it almost hurt. The reason for the laughter – well the dame (Andrew Robinson) for one made the evening and, keeping it in the family, the fairy (Zena Robinson) added a quirky, bumbling eccentricity to the piece. Andrew gave a fabulous performance acting the part of Dame Dinky Durden. His comic timing was spot on, as was his rapport with the audience. He batted his eyelashes and rearranged his cleavage with a style all his own. Zena’s rather batty Fairy Bubble was just lovely and such a contrast to Sharon Hughe’s Scallawag. Sharon made a perfect villain, her demonic laughter leaving the ears ringing.
Jeanette Adams was Jack the gallant thigh-slapping son of the dame. The love interest for Jack was Jill, played by Becky Jones and Steven Spencer played the dame’s other son, Jimmy. These three played their parts really well, Steven being perfectly cast as Jimmy, getting the audience on his side from the start.
Callum Bonser and Reiss Homes added to the comedy as the characters Slap and Tickle, Baron Bigwig’s bungling handymen and Tracey Priest appeared as the dairymaid Daphne. Daphne had the audience chuckling too and her cow, Clarissa, had the audience’s full support (well done to Katie Lawton and Harriett Pursehouse performing in that hot furry costume!) Along with other members of the cast George Earle as Baron Bigwig and Barry Pickwell and Judith Earle as Mayor and Mayoress Muddlehead, the children, dancers and chorus under the direction of Deborah Spencer and with choreography from Tracy Priest, performed another panto to remember.
Elements that made this an excellent panto were the attention to sets, costumes and colours, good casting, enthusiastic singing from the chorus, brilliant touches with lighting and sound and, I mustn’t fail to mention, the voice of Callum Bonser as a West Indian cook on the radio.
If this leaves you keen to attend the next production look out for information on what’s happening in May and further ahead. Blyth Players’ October play will be Stepping Out by Richard Harris.
By Wendy Fidoe