As the second half of the pantomime season kicks in it is time for the amateur groups to take to the stage and strut their stuff.
First up for me post Christmas are the Watson Players with a more unusal choice of panto – Camelot – which was a good start as there are only so many times you need to see Cinders fit into her slipper each year.
This Derby-based group have a fine reputation for producing cracking shows and they didn’t disappoint with this one at the Guildhall Theatre.
The costumes were truly stunning – especially the witches – and the simple, yet extremely effective set, was a triumph.
Helen Perry and Cat Howourth did a great job of choreographing the dancers but the singing by the chorus did lack a little oomph during a few of the numbers – probably first night nerves.
In Camelot the townsfolk, ruled by King Uther, played by Carl McGarrigle, are excitedly waiting the arrival of the beautiful Guinevere (Anna Cousins), who is betrothed to his handsome son, Prince Arthur (Ellie Mallinson).
Unbeknown to them the baddies – Morgan Le Fey, played with suitably evil gusto by Yvonne Baird; Valerin The Vicious (Jack Woolley) and his mum, played by the excellent Patricia Church – plan to kidnap the Princess and imprison her in a castle in the enchanted forest.
Cue bucketfuls of slapstick, ghostly goings-on, boos hisses, cheers, sing-songs and of course a Royal Wedding.
Along the way we are entertained by the court jester Laughalot, played by the very able Andrew (Bold and Brave) Buxton and Connie Clatterbottom, played by David Jones, who created a magnificently outlandish dame character.
However stealing the show with her brilliant facial expressions was Liz Woolley in the mimed role of Teddy the sweet-natured bear. The audience loved her and she didn’t let her character slip even once.
This is traditional pantomime fun at its best and even if you have seen one already this season spoil yourself and go and see another.
The rest of the cast were Merlin, Wayne Perry; Merlon, Josh Robinson; Nell, Catherine Baker; Garlon, Helen Perry; Nilrem and Elsie, Carole Presbury; Dave The Snake, Aaron Burge; Talking Clock, John Chatterjee-Woolman; The Bishop, Ben Woolley, Coriander, Gill Swift; Capsicum, Sally Tickner-Mellor; Cumin, Margaret Icely and Caraway, Debbie Barfield. Members of the chorus not already mentioned were Debbie Barfield, Evie Barfield, Sabine Bensley, Rebecca Jones, Neve Smith, Sally Tickner-Mellor, Reema Udeshi, Conor O’Hara and Dan Rowling.
The pantomime was written by Ben Crocker and directed and produced by Angela Swift; the musical director was Jordan Baird; wardrobe Patricia Church; set design Brian Hartshorn and John Woolley; lighting Lee Hartshorn and sound John Woolley.
The rest of the production team not mentioned so far were Karen Jones, Ian Bentley, Ben Glover, David Hooley, Nigel Taylor, Graham Swift, Roy Jones, Lynda Wynn, Angela Barradell, Mike Moss, Alison Hartshorn, Fay Hinchcliffe, Jake Perry, Anthony James, David Johnston, Simon Wells, Bob Rodgers and Regina Repton.
The show can be seen at the Guildhall Theatre, Derby until Sunday January 22. For tickets go to http://www.derbylive.co.uk