Directed by: Lynn Perera & Julie Wardley
Musical Director: Maria King
17 January 2019
Thank you so much for the very warm welcome given to all the audience by the Front of House team led by Sue Maplestone.
Rapunzel was a new pantomime for me but the story very familiar. It was immediately evident on entering the Hall that Rapunzel was the subject of the piece with a very impressive tower.
The audience were treated to a lively introduction from Curly and Bob, ably played by Lauren Broom and Neil Jackson. This duo shone throughout the pantomime showing great comic timing as they joked and capered from scene to scene.
James Finbow, playing Frankie, was another delightful and well acted character. Son of Dame Trixie, he was always charming and created great rapport with the audience.
His very elegant mother, Dame Trixie, played by Ray Seager, showed a strong character and filled the stage with her presence. I missed the usual changes of costume which has become a traditional element of the Dame's role.
Bex Nicholls as Prince Frederick was a very powerful character and superbly played. Her amazing singing voice and large stage presence lit up the hall. I detected a touch of 'Ab Fab' in her dialogue which just enhanced the role.
The contrast with the much gentler Rapunzel, played by Charlea Burwood worked really well. Charlea won the sympathy of the whole audience with her lovely portrayal as she endured the thoroughly nasty attention of Fiona Robinson Rogers Wicked Witch. She managed that amazing hair so well.
Fairy Flora, played by Lola Miller was a real highlight for me. Her clear diction and confident stage presence shone. This was a very good and mature characterisation from one so young.
Glyn Hill very ably portrayed King Geoffrey and was well supported by his rather pathetic Queen Gertrude,Sandie Finbow. Both created a very believable pair.
Lacie, Macie and Gracie played by Sophie Edwards, Emma Cole and Molly Griffin sang, danced and acted with verve and were backed well by their mini versions Freya Carney, Lily Benmore and Holly Barker.
Rob Dack completed the principal line up as the Captain of the Guard suffering the most unwelcome attentions of Dame Trixie. But as in all pantomimes, she got her man.
Every member of the large cast projected vitality and joy in their performances. It was wonderful to see so many young people on stage. They danced, sang and acted with complete commitment with excellent backing from a very talented band. Congratulations to the directors Lynn Perera and Julie Wardley, Musical Director Maria King and all the choreographers.
The whole production team played their part in creating a very successful entertainment. The costumes were bright and lively. The tech team led by Greg Garrad supported the action throughout. The many set changes were well managed and the device of displaying the tower room with links to the very impressive tower was particularly successful.
This was a very long pantomime but understandably so because of the size of the cast. It was certainly enjoyed by the audience.
Directed by: Glyn Hill
Musical Director: Maria King
Directed by: Rob Maplestone
One of the most colourful sets I have seen in a Pantomime with gorgeous chinese lanterns decorated carts loaded with fruits etc and an overall feel of brightness and right on stage which was
so inviting on entering the hall.
Not quite the usual formula in the cast of "Aladdin" but some great characters all well played.
Playing Aladdin a stalwart of the group James Finbow did really well and sung and acted with confidence, I did feel although a very lowly working class lad his costume was rather drab, but it sort of worked, and a great change when he appeared in a very colourful outfit later on gave the lead character more sparkle.
As Jasmine the Princess, Maddy Mayo looked lovely and sung in a very pretty style and the duets between Aladdin and Jasmine were pleasant and tuneful.
Lauren Broom as Wishee Washee was a "shining star" as always great rapp0rt from Lauren with the audience, and 100% commitment to her character. Great sense of timing and a real pleasure to
Rob Dade as the wicked Abanazar grew in the character as the show progressed and did a great job. Rob sings very well and "Can't take my Eyes off You" was beautifully sung. Well done!
A very glamorous Widow Twankey from Len Stockdale in some very sophisticated costumes throughout the show. Len worked hard with the audience to involve them in the story.
Lo and Hi played by Emma Cole & Bex Nichols were Abanazar's hench men and worked well together.I thought the choreography was rather repetitious and could have been rather more varied, but both worked hard with a good feel for the character's.
All the junior cast performed well and most of them had lovely smiley faces.
An accomplished Empress of Peking from Lynn Perera.great diction and feel for this part. And a nice character from Sophie as Genie of the lamp.
PC 39 and PC 27 from Sandie Finbow and Pead Attwood added a comic touch to the pantomime, and all in all everyone worked hard.
When on stage it is very important to become the character you are playing and total concentration in the show is so important. This is something which the younger members will learn with more experience.
Time After Time
Directed by: Bex Nicholls
A tale of love set sometime over the course of the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Oliver, a free, impulsive young man and Angela, an ambitious girl with dreams, find each other amidst the good times of the 70’s and fall madly in love. There love is tested, however, when Angel announces her departure to the city with family and to pursue her dreams. Was their love all just a teenage fantasy? Years pass. Oliver travels to find Angela and he wants answers. Can they rekindle what they had?
A simple story told with classic, well-loved hits of the 70’s and 80’s, it will have audiences dancing and singing along.
Beauty & The Beast
Directed by: Lynn Perera
Musical Director: Maria King
With a script written by Stephen Duckham and inspired by the story of Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, The Orchard Players took a wonderful and magical journey to France, to discover the legend of a Beauty and a Beast.
A very ambitious production for a company of this, size but one which the Orchard Players drove through with some interesting scenes, characters and interpretations.
We had the usual Goodies versus the Baddies, and a junior chorus of around 20 young people who excelled in dance and enthusiasm towards the production. Supported by some adult members the singing was very tuneful.
The solo performance by Steph Porter as the Rose Fairy started the story off really well. A sweet performance by Steph, dressed beautifully as were all the cast throughout the show.
The costumes from the super talented team of Jurae Wardley Cheryll Burton and assistants were as always terrific. A delight of colour, all well fitting and attractive. I must commend the Wardrobe team for all their work and attention to detail.
Now to the main cast,
Emma Cole as Beauty, Bev Nicholls as the Beast, Cheryll Burton as Horrindana, Lauren Broom as Charlie, James Finbow as Prince Rowan, Richard Cavanagh as Madam Lotte and so the list goes on with many supporting characters all working so well together.
So many different characters to comment on but "star stand out" performances by Bex as the Beast with one of the high spots in the show in her solo "Who will love me as I am" performed with such emotion. I loved it!
Lauren as Charlie gave her all and more, a real talent here and one I hope we see many more times, perfect timing, action and 100% on top of the character. Terrific!!
Emma as Beauty looked the part, and gave touching performances in scenes with the Beast, and her Father Panisse, played very well by Peart Attwood.
It was good to see Cheryll playing a "baddie" in Horridana, and as always her songs were well sung and the character well-played.
Here and there one or two lapses in some of the dialogue from one or two cast members which slowed the pace. and I would have liked even more interaction from Madam Lotte with the audience.
Maddy Moyo playing Fifi a very saucy character, surely should have had a French accent which would have added so much more to the fun of the part.
James as Prince Rowan was quite a serious chap, a little more light and shade in his dialogue would have added more to this dashing character.
I liked Molly as Thomas who gave a confidence to the role.
Most of the songs were well chosen, but "Come to the Fair" was not as joyous as it could have been and needed more of a swing to lift it.
The young chorus did so well with the choreography and most of them looked happy and involved.
There were a few gaps in between scene changes which needed speeding up, especially before scene 6, when there was a long wait for the curtain to go up.
Lighting was very good and sound generally, with a few crackling mike's here and there. Great sets very colourful and bright.
When on stage everyone needs to be aware with Patomimes there will be shout out's from the audience which can be difficult, and it is good if just one or two characters on stage such as the Dame or similar ad libs with comments back.
If too many get involved it spoils the standard of the show.
The orchestra under Maria King did really well in supporting the songs and kept a lively pace. The songs tended to be jolly and were good, the one or two slower gentle songs were a direct change in tempo's and gave another dimension to the production.
All in all a very good Panto and one which the audience enjoyed very much.
I always enjoy my visits to Capel, thank you for your warm welcome on FOH and also meeting up with production members and committee, much appreciated.
Directed by: Val Munns
Musical Director: Maria King
With a summer vibe that'll put a smile on anyone's face, The Orchard Players bring back the songs of the Jukebox era of the 1960's.
I received a lovely warm welcome from Sue Maplestone and the Front of House team. The open stage had a very striking set along the theme of an American diner on stage which was vibrant and well constructed and flowed into the downstage exterior set. all of which were very well designed, constructed and painted by Len and Val Munns, Kyle Watts and Emma Cranwell, Who also provided the props. The colourful wardrobe and costumes were put together extremely well by the team, in keeping with the era and beautifully made in some cases. The sound and lighting design was varied and well applied, however there were one or two sound issues with personal mic packs that could have been avoided. Lynne Peera and Emma cote's choreography was very good for the most part however it did took a little regimented, maybe in future you could look at taking advantage of the dual levels and vary the moves accordingly. Also whilst I am impressed with the achievement of getting every member of the cast on stage, I do think that sometimes less is more, because you allow the cast more space for movement and expression. The band under the musical direction of Maria King were brilliant and clearly loved the songs that they were playing. With a review like this it is the job of the Director and Assistant, Val and Len Munns to pick the best songs that tell the back story, as there was in this production with music from the fifties and sixties and get the performers to bring them to life with their talent and performance. I think that Val and Len should be very proud of their cast and crew as they all did a great job. I really felt that after many months of waiting that summer had finally arrived in Capel St Mary. Ella Cooper and Hadyen Wise provided an extra special touch of class with their superb ballroom standard dancing.
This was a show full of fun arid enjoyment that was thoroughly enjoyed by the cast, myself and the audience in equal measure.
Directed by: Rob Maplestone
Second star to the right, straight on till morning!
Fly away with The Orchard Players to the magical world of Neverland!
Join Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, Wendy and the rest of the timeless characters as they encounter Red Indians, Mermaids, and Pirates!
See Neverland brought to life like never before, all you need is faith, trust, and a little pixie dust.
The transformation of the hall was impressive, with a total tum around from the staging and set we have been used to seeing over many years.
The audience sat around the stage so all the action was focussed on movement ever changing.
The opening and general feel of this production was very colourful with some superb costumes under the expertise of Julie Warclley assisted by Tonicha Rice, in fact some of the best costumes in Panto I have seen this season.
Mainly the songs chosen for the show were well known, albeit I felt some fitted better with the-theme and story line rather more than others.
Peter Pan was very enthusiastically played by Kerrie Webster who gave her all for the entire performance. A very confident strong character with a strong singing voice and a great costume and look.
Tinkerbell with Hannah Cocks was very sweet, and with her gestures in place of dialogue it was a well played role.
The Darling family of Father played by Rob Maplestone Mother played by Hanna Nunn, Michael Darling with Sam Rumbelow and John played by Minnie Gilbert and Wendy played by Emma Cole were fine. Perhaps Minnie (playing John) would have looked more like a boy with her hair tied back?
All the children in the cast did very well and looked as if they were enjoying themselves with confident appearances on stage.
Leading the Pirates was Bex Nicholls as Captain Hook in a most resplendent costume. As always Bex gave a very talented confident performance.
The cast had a lot of movement, and I do understand it needed to be so the audience could see all the action with the new lay out of the stage, but there were times it needed to slow down for solo's in particular, when just simply to stand and sing would have added more to the feel of the songs "On My Own" sung so well by Madison Mayo as Tager Lily, and a duet later on in the show with Hook and Peter for instance, are those that spring to mind.
I find the part of Smee a really complex character who needs to have a sense of fun, but dominated and rather afraid of Hook. James Fimbow always works so hard to involve the audience, which can be difficult depending on the audience's reaction. I felt more animation and life would have added to this character.
I find some of the dialogue difficult to hear despite the cast all using head mic's, lt is so important to get the sound (when using backing tracks under speaking) really well balanced.
Hannah gave the young people some good choreography which they performed
Overall a credit to Rob and the team in giving a new look and feel for the audiences enjoyment.
This group has a very loyal following which is an indication of the reputation here.
Lets Go To The Movies
Directed by: Cheryll Burton
The concept of the show was a mixture of songs from well known movies, to include both adult and junior members of the society, with narration in between groupings.
A Jot of preparation, thought, and work had gone into the choices of songs from way back films up to the present day.
In Act 1 the range from "Moon River" from "Breakfast at Tiffany's" through to a selection including "Bugsy Malone" with the Junior members, “Bang Bang (The Great Gatsby) and ending with ""Singing in the Rain" was enjoyable.
There were lots of soloist's to name them all and generally all performed very well, however I would have liked to see rather more expression on some faces, especially when performing solo's, which adds a brightness and brings a song to life.
Some of the numbers were quite difficult and challenging, and there was a tentative start to some.
The dance routines were very good and the company did very well. The age ranges of the juniors included some quite young children and I did feel they were stretched coping with singing and dancing.
I commend Cheryll and Linda for all their hard work and encouragement with the younger people and having some of the older girls choreographing numbers which gives them confidence and an added interest to take part in the shows.
In Act 11 starting with "76 Trombones" from "The Music Man" the sound levels varied rather but a very packed act with some great songs from "Oliver”, "Moulin Rouge", "Skyfall”, “Armageddon," to name just some.
For me the star performances came from Gary Burton .and Becky Thomas singing "Come what May", and "Out of Reach" with Hanna Herschell and Lynn Perera.
Both these numbers had meaning and were sung with feeling and Bex Nicholls really excelled with the lovely "Skyfall" from the Bond movie, beautifully sung as did Linda Garrad with "Don't Want to Miss a Thing” from "Armageddon"
The show finished with "Happy" a jolly number which we hear so much on TV. Again great work from Cheryll and Linda with the company, and as always we need our more senior members for experience and confidence to back the young people.
A really hot afternoon for the company to perform and then follow it again in the evening.
Well done to you all, and I see from the programme you are already looking to the next production "Peter Pan" the pantomime. Forward thinking so essential to keep up your reputation and commitment to Musical Theatre.
Jack And The Beanstalk
Directed by: Rob Maplestone
Directed by: Val Munns
Musical Director: Maria King
For an evening of pure nostalgia the Orchard Players really stepped up to the mark with a selection of 50s and 60s songs linked together so well, and told a story along the way. This show had the audience singing and clapping along to most all of the numbers.
Devised by Val and Len Munns it took us on a Jukebox Journey with a great selection of soloists and very popular songs.
The set was excellent a typical diner complete with juke box, stylish bar stools and flashing signs which were so colourful. The wall paintings of cars from the period all add to the bright effect as the audience entered the hall.
There were far too many soloists to mention and all did so well, but “stand out” numbers for me were "Stupid Cupid" and Lipstick on your Collar" with Bex and the Juniors all in good form.
I also loved "Pink Shoelaces" with Adrian and Julie. "Does your Chewing Gum lose it’s Flavour" with both the Len's and "Chantilly Lace" with Big Bopper Adrian were fantastic.
Also "Come Outside" from Adrian and Pearl was such a great number and played so well, and James for "Times they are a Changing" with James playing solo guitar, and the last numbers in the show" Aquarius" and "Let the Sun Shine In" with Julie and the entire company brought back many memories and closed the programme.
Great credit must go to the entire company with some real energy on stage which came over to the audience.
Maria King as MD is also to be congratulated for her sterling work on keyboard along with a small band totally supporting the singers, and as I understand Maria did a great deal of the arrangements for the group. Well done!
Well done also to Val and Len for the original idea and to Val for her overall direction of the show which kept the pace going throughout.
I would also like to mention the costumes which are always so professional looking with The Orchard Players, and in this production a lot of work must have gone into researching the styles of the period which were spot on. Julie and her team did exceptionally well. Many Congratulations.
The next production will be the Pantomime which is already in hand. Forward thinking as time marches on. I look forward to" Jack and the Beanstalk" in January 2015.
Happy Ever After
Directed by: Damien Laverty
Musical Director: Maria King
A very different script and innovative story line where all the "baddies" really want to be good. Written and Directed by Damien Laverty assisted by Giles Meehan. Giles also composed all the songs in the show. This was a first production and a very interesting story line with all the favourite characters from all the Pantomime characters with a dash of Nursery Rhyme characters to boot.
John Hoskyns as Mother Molly Mary Moo Mud Pie (Yes that was her name) was excellent with some very flamboyant costumes and worked the audience well.
There were too many named characters to mention each and every one but I would like to comment on Bex Nicholls as Buttons and Sandie Finbow as The Wicked Witch. Both got right into their characters and worked hard at the interpretations.
With a brand new script and songs it took a while to get all the characters sorted.
To see it a second time a lot of the "inhouse" humour would have been appreciated more.
I did think Act 1 was overlong, finishing with a rather long song which might need looking at from Giles to see if it could be shortened perhaps?
Costumes in general were bright and attractive but there was rather a mixed bag with some characters A little more attention on hemlines and tidy looking costumes is always best checked before going on to the stage, and would have given a more professional look.
There were a few times in the performance I attended when cast on the stage were kept waiting for other cast to come on and carry on with the story. This really needed to be slicker to keep the pace flowing.
The singing was pleasant and most of the cast know all the Words. I say most as there was one or two who really needed to have worked harder at words and movements.
It can be very useful to young people who have not been in a show before to be given help through the process with the transition from rehearsal room to stage. It is a very different when first on a stage with nerves etc with a haft full of people watching you, and it is important that the younger members are given confidence. A little gentle advice re stage rules usually works.
All in all though I commend both Damien and Giles for all their work and with a bit of tweeking here and there this will be a great show for other groups to consider in the future.
As always a really warm welcome on our arrival and it was good to meet up with you all again.
I look forward to your next production.