The Loddon Players - Red Riding Hood, Loddon Church Hall - 24th January 2014
Director, Jackie Bingham. Producer, Steve Burton. MD, Alan Cant. Choreographer, Vicky Codling
Another fine village panto begins with a vibrant chorus scene on the Village Green as the lively cast get the show off to a colourful start.
They were always in fine voice throughout and could perhaps have been used more? Villagers I and 2 (go on give them names!) Judith Gray and Rebecca Walter, introduce us to Red Riding Hood (Emily Johnston), who is suitably caring and with fine voice looking every inch the Principle Girl accompanied by Daisy (Elizabeth Chapman) as they deal with the antics of her fellow villagers…not least Beatrice Day (Bidet...get it !) played by Graham Orpit with his usual aplomb, nice local asides and with the compulsory over the top Norfolk dialect! (But no ukulele...shame!).
Some well designed and suitably outrageous costumes and wigs added to the traditional dame character and he clearly had friends (of course!) in the audience with whom there was some humorous ‘off the cuff’ repartee.
May Day, played by the irrepressible Maureen Larkin, gave her always enjoyable, seemingly almost unrehearsed (yes I know it was!) interjections and asides, as she creates mayhem and confusion in all around her including the funny, but rather long, slapstick scene, which the kids always enjoy!
Her son, the ever so slightly dim, but funny, Ollie Day (no explanation needed!), (Christian Lovick) gave a super audience pleasing nose wiping lesson as we ‘helped’ him to remember his hankie! A nice touch.
This pair were frequently interrupted by the ever vigilant Fireman/Seaman (Martyn Sutton) who on any pretext rushed on to ‘save lives’ and extinguish fires!
Again a nice gag which may have been extended? No matter, we are introduced to the well disguised BBW, Big Bad Wolf (Richard Wharton) who with impeccable English language is perhaps misunderstood as he plots to trap RRH and Eric (Jonathon Mayfield) who also added some well portrayed comedy to the proceedings.
Together with the well togged compulsory panto baron like, Baron Foxley(Brian D Vincent).
The Wolfs truly erudite and articulate explanations cannot hide his cunning ways as he licks his lips and encourages the boos and hisses from the audience!
He had, it seems, suitably intimidated the Three ‘little’ Pigs, the camp one Tarquin (Ian Fulcher), the.. er, middle one, Tallulah (Shula Howard) and wee one Iggy ( Benjamin Walker) who, although an extra story line, were nicely portrayed as ‘homeless’ since the Wolf had..well..huffed and puffed and blew their house down! An act of green political correctness it seems!
Never fear, handsome Principle Boy, in disguise, Prince Richard (Lauren Gray) was on hand to come to the rescue (But no thigh slaps..tut!) accompanied on his travels by the humorous always moaning Squire Hector Moaner(Peter Samain) and of course was able to save all and sundry from a somewhat misunderstood BBWolf!
There were some nice solo and duet vocals and the added bonus of dance routines from the Funky Feet Dancers who always look good (were there really four teams?...ok good to see one was boys!).
The almost inevitable Ghost scene. Some fun in Granny’s bedroom as Gwendoline Walker shows she is the ‘perfect’ Granny.
A special mention for the Trees (Pauline Mason, Martyn Sutton) determined to make an impression at the start of Act 2.
This was a fun packed show enjoyed by the full house audiences who I am sure look forward to ‘their Panto’ every year.
Well done to all.
Review by Terry Rymer (NODA Representative East Dist 6)