Calamity Dame Pantomime
Cheryl Barrett | 14 Feb 2017 23:25pm
PLENTY OF YEE-HA HA HA
You can measure the success of a show by the audience reaction, which was certainly the case for New Eltham Community Productions (NECP) latest production, Calamity Dame – New Eltham Methodist Church’s 46th Pantomime
Calamity Dame was based on an original script by Tracey Canavan-Smith. Director Martin Johnson, David Helps, Keith Chuter, Rachel King and Michael Chuter contributed to the final performance script. With nine scenes listed in Act One and eleven scenes in Act Two I was slightly concerned at the length of the panto, however the two and a half hours flew by.
Performed by a talented and enthusiastic cast, the panto had a vast amount of characters and, being community theatre, was inclusive of all ages. The younger members were focussed and gave confident performances throughout. The opening number ‘Pantomime Tonight’ was upbeat and a lovely choice of song.
The principals were well cast and gave good performances. There were a few outstanding performances, in particular from Kevin Doig as the Dame, Calamity D Rocker. From his first entrance, through the swing doors of the saloon bar, Kevin Doig commanded the stage and connected with the audience throughout. As well as excellent comic timing he gave us some lovely comedy moments, especially during his sad ballads, his comic facial expressions when the chorus joined in the song ‘You Were Always On My Mind’ were hilarious. I was surprised to learn afterwards that he usually took the role of villain and this was only the second time he had played the dame.
Julian Bartlett was suitably villainous as the baddie, Bill Stickers, and got plenty of boos and hisses from the audience. Emily McLaren as Minnie Ha Ha was a convincing principal girl with great vocals and worked well with her love interest Jimbob, played by Tom Helps. Hilary Northwood was superb as Calamity’s sister, Charity Feelsgood and displayed great comic timing and stage presence. Woody and Jess played by Keith Chuter and Rachel King, made regular front of cloth appearances throughout the show. They worked well together and did a few technology related jokes about iphones, X boxes etc which worked well. Special mention should be given to the Totem pole, which was hilariously played by Reverend Duncan MacBean who adlibbed continuously getting plenty of laughs.
It was encouraging to watch a confident cast, well-played support roles and enthusiastic chorus, all of whom acted their characters with conviction. Despite the stage looking overcrowded at times I must commend director Martin Johnson for good use of the auditorium. Not only did the rabbits make their entrance through the auditorium onto the stage, so did the mailman complete with arrow through his hat followed in hot pursuit by Native Amercians. However he missed a trick with the farm boys who carried instruments but didn’t ‘play’ them.
Choreographers Hilary Northwood, Alex and Caroline Brilliant and Rachel King are to be congratulated on the choreography which was effective and worked well, especially in the last song when the stage seemed overcrowded. The musical director song choices supported the story well and there was a varied selection of old and new favourites which the audience enjoyed.
With inventive scenery and excellent art work the set was very good and worked well. The lighting design was creative. Colourful costumes added to this spectacular production, and I particularly liked the Dame’s many costumes.
Eltham community panto had something for everyone, from the large white rabbit and bunnies running through the auditorium to the Wells Fargo stagecoach and Chief Passing Wind’s tepee village. Well done to all involved. With such a galaxy of talent in the society I look forward to their next panto.
- : admin
- : 07/01/2017