March 2018
Saint Mary’s Panto Players
strike again …
Once more two packed audiences (no seating room left at both afternoon and evening shows) cheered, booed, laughed and sang along with the Panto Players as they told the tale of ‘Babes in the Wood’. Thanks to the assistance of Barry Thorpe on the lights and Brian Ross on sound and the back stage crew of Julie, Chris and Lily, Saint Wilfrid’s Church was transformed into our own (slightly lower key) Palladium. Certainly the one man music pit was worthy of any major stage as Brian Moles, not only acted the Sheriff (who was resoundingly booed, so much at one point he could not deliver a line!) but also provided a lively musical backdrop to scene changes as well as a multi instrumental accompaniment of songs – truly versatile! Further unseen work from Rosie and Adrienne meant actors were costumed and made up in style. Amazingly, for Saint Mary’s Panto Players, the least used backstage person this year was Joy, our prompt. Although the Vicar did seem to have a few quiet conversations with her!
Meanwhile on the stage there were some very familiar characters – Maggie Moles as the Fairy; Jason as the Sheriff’s wicked sidekick; Father Bob – surprisingly (?!) – as the Dame; and Ali and Sarah, as the not so bright criminals. Irene, as Robin Hood, had the task of trying to keep the Merry (should that be Ministry) Team in order – Father Darcy as Little John; Rev Sue as Friar Tuck; Rev Barbara as Will Scarlet and Jenny Stemp as Alan a Dale – who sang wonderfully out of tune. The ‘old hands’ were completed by David Black as the Ghost and Radio Announcer.
This year, though, as the audience left (and as they talked at Church on Sunday) the real stars of the show were the young performers who really shone out. Some of them have ‘grown up’ through panto shows and it was great to see them acting, and singing, with confidence and clearly enjoying themselves. Pip played Simon Simple, and was a great stooge to the Dame; Sabrina was Maid Marian and carried the role with a regal presence; Emily and Aidan were a wonderful double act of incompetent guards – and their performance of ‘Anything you can do’ stole the show. They were joined by some younger actors taking on bigger roles for the first time – Olivia as Lady Jane; Harry and Izzy as the two Babes all showed that we have no fears for the future of the Panto Players and look forward to seeing them take on more roles next year. Likewise the schoolchildren helped carry the show with their enthusiasm and smiles – Kieran (who also acted as the Bear), Sam, Sophie and Millie won the hearts of many in the audience.
This year there were also some special guests …fresh from their triumph at the Harvest Supper ‘the Sunflowers’ led some audience singing with great gusto and style. Thanks to Marie for co-ordinating them and we await their next outing. ‘Babes in the Wood’ traditionally ends with the return of King Richard – played by a surprise actor (often a slightly faded star). This show was no exception and Father Bob kept everyone (even the cast) in suspense until the performance. It was great to see both Adam and Richard return to the stage and we are grateful to them for doing so … even if they did seem to have a script on the back of their shield!
The audience left full of smiles and praise for all involved … and once again the cry went up ‘the best ever!’. What will they do next year? Come and join in when the auditions take place in October!

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