Dereham Theatre Company - Robinson Crusoe
Robinson Crusoe And The Pirates
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Director - Jill Jarman
Musical Director - Ian Futers
Choreographer - Amy Futers
29th December 2012 to 5th January 2013
at Dereham Memorial Hall
ROBINSON CRUSE - Jayne Andrew
MARGARITA JUICILITA - Gareth Evans
NUTTY NICK - Nick Bird
CAPTAIN SEASALT - Doug Hartley
JUANITA - Rachael Bird
CUT-THROAT - John McInnes
SKULL-DUGGARY - Emma Gall
CROSS-BONES - Kevin Reeve
FRIDAY - Colin Harris
HOCUS POCUS - Summer Giles
MUMBO JUMBO - Samantha Elmhurst
CORAL, SPIRIT OF THE SEAS - Caroline Caldecott
DAVY JONES - Colin Harris
POLL - Katrina Porter
Grace Anderson, Helen Bailey, Samantha Elmhurst, Summer Giles, Matthew Hartley, Rebekah Hartley, Johnny Miller, Heather Neave, Katrina Porter
Ellie Buckingham, Lucy Daniels, Amy Evans, Amy Futers
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Review by Terry Rymer (NODA Rep Dist 6)
Thursday, 3rd January 2013
"Dereham are so lucky to have the magnificently renovated and updated Memorial Hall as their home venue, It smacks of theatrical opulence as soon as you walk in and I am sure this, in a perhaps metaphysical sense, lifts the cast to give it their best possible performance. Certainly this was another first class all round production with no real weaknesses and some fine performances from principals and chorus alike. We had the statuesque and thoroughly confident Robinson (Jayne Andrew) who left us in no doubt that she was in command of the stage with her tantalisingly seductive style Yes I know she is playing a man, but this is panto and in true traditional spirit this was wholly correct with arms firmly planted on hips, copious thigh slaps, all cheered by the audience, and legs…well legs ! Equally beguiling and played with just the right level of demure but enticing latin charm was Juanita (Rachael Bird)…they were made for each other and shared strong singing voices. The Dame, Margarita Juicilita (Gareth Evans) was outrageously made up and engaged the audience from the outset, not always easy! Gareth is becoming a real expert at ‘Damely’ antics and mannerisms and appeared totally at ease and confident ‘in the frock’; he/she was suitably brazen but also protective of her offspring and rightly so..I am sure there were good reasons for this tale to begin in Brazil !? Also on the comedy front we had Nutty Nick (Nick Bird) who, as always, brought his not inconsiderable experience to truly capture the funny moments with immaculate timing and a cheery audience pleasing line in ‘Naughty Nicks natty nuts’ or something similar…he was a joy to behold and led the line of comedy characters with aplomb. Captain Seasalt (Doug Hartley) every inch the ‘salty sea dog’, Cut Throat (John McInnes), Skull-Duggery (Emma Gail), Cross-Bones (Kevin Reeve) all providing excellent support and some rollicking moments of manic mirth..and well.. skulduggery! Oh Yes they did !.. We just knew that treasure map got torn for a reason !
The tale did take some time (too long ?) to unfold and eventually, after a very effective shipboard storm scene and an imaginative under the sea scene, complete with Davy Jones, straight from Pirates of the Carribean in the monstrous mask, we had a new slant on Man Friday ( Colin Harris..who was also unrecognisable as Davy Jones). Now it is incumbent upon us in this age of political correctness to be aware of stereotyping...no fear of that here as good old British ‘Stiff upper lip’ was the order of the day as the sophisticated and obviously privately educated Friday gave us a different perspective on the role and brought his own interpretation to bear on the proceedings ! All of which culminated in the cooking pot scene as the Cannibal Islanders ( Hmm!) Mumbo Jumbo (Samantha Elmhurst) ‘King’, and with an island named after him ! Hocus Pocus (Summer Giles) a Witch Doctor by any other name, but clearly in awe of the most impressive Idol, with working parts, providing some suitably ‘hot and tasty’ moments for our heroes. The colourful and noisy Poll The Parrot ( Katrina Porter ) was lucky not to become the ‘Christmas Turkey’.All this of course led to treasure being discovered and a ‘Happy ending’ was guaranteed as the colourful Mardi Gras (Well it was in Brazil !) ended the proceedings with excellent chorus work and as throughout, yet more nifty footwork from the busy quartet of dancers ( Ellie Buckingham, Lucy Daniels, Amy Evans, Amy Futers) Excellent live musical accompaniment, flamboyant costumes and responsive audiences. It was all there ! Same time next year folks !!"
Stephen P. E. Hayter (Regional Representative N.O.D.A. Area 4 North)
4th January 2013
"There is no doubt in my mind that the general standard of pantomime in the region seems to have risen this year and, as I travelled beyond my usual borders at the behest of Region 5 supremo Sue Dupont, I was in good spirits and with high hopes of another seasonal triumph. Whatever the outcome it is never a hardship to take my seat at the beautiful Dereham Memorial Hall and on this occasion it was for Robinson Crusoe and the Pirates (Yarr !).
Almost from the very first opening of the impressive front tabs I knew I was on a winner as The Dereham Theatre Company wheeled out their pantomime elite bolstered (it is true) by a few new faces. My on-going issue with amateur pantomime is (and has always been) the quality of the scripts. They just never seem to be funny, often containing virtually no scripted gags with all the humour coming visually or from slapstick and ad-lib frequently conceived and delivered on the hoof. To be honest, it is quite often just not enough. I can triumphantly report that this was a notable exception. A brilliant script by Alan Frayn which was indeed slapped thigh deep in quality pantomime gags accessorised with some fantastic performers and some sixteen or so relevant songs all combining to create an evening where I laughed till I cried!
The chorus were very focused throughout with quite simply the four hardest working dancers I have ever set eyes on. My deepest respect to Ellie Buckingham, Lucy Daniels, Amy Evans and Amy Futers who cantered their way through fourteen energetic routines assisted in no small part by some outstanding choreography courtesy of Mrs Futers. Of the supporting cast Doug Hartley was solid enough as respectable Captain Seasalt despite taking the only prompt of the night, as was Katrina Porter as Parrot Poll, who must have been roasting in that costume. I enjoyed Samantha Elmhurst as Cannibal Matriarch, Mumbo Jumbo and her very junior assistant Summer Giles as Witch Doctor, Hocus Pocus together with comedy double- act Emma Gall and Kevin Reeve as Skull-Duggary and Cross-Bones who worked hard throughout. Caroline Caldecott was every inch the “Fairy” as Coral, Spirit of the Seas with a flawless rhyming delivery and Colin Harris delivered a memorable cameo as outcast native and sidekick Friday as well as masking up for the role of Coral’s nemesis, Davy Jones.
Of the leads, Jayne Andrew made a lovely job of our hero Robinson Crusoe with three thigh slaps, each of considerable quality, and John McInnes was the very personification of boo and hiss as the Evil Pirate, Cut-Throat. I absolutely loved young Rachael Bird as the female romantic lead who acted sang, and danced to a very high standard building on her noteworthy chorus appearance in Oklahoma! by taking her first leading role. It is not every heroine who can sink with the ship walk along the sea bottom and be washed ashore on a desert island in a completely different costume. Pure genius, pure Pantomime!
As with last year’s production, Gareth Evans took the part of the dame this time named Margarita Juicilita and, with his delicate delivery, he was absolutely superb never missing a word or indeed a laugh and giving plenty of credibility to some spectacular costumes. In a top quality cast in a top quality production it is always nice to steal the show and that was done with complete ease by peerless comic lead, Nick Bird as Nutty Nick. No pun was left unturned as he rattled his way through dozens of jokes, a wide selection of visual gags and some excellent audience participation. Another virtuoso performance from Dereham’s own King of Comedy.
My profound congratulations to Director, Jill Jarman for a directorial triumph with a show that was technically perfect, made all the more so by the steady hand on the keyboard belonging to Musical Director Ian Futers in top form as usual ably assisted by Mathew Crittenden on drums to help sell all the gags. Excellent Lighting design by Ashley Cashfield, divine sound from Mike Lynn and a lovely set by Dave Filer and Kevin Jude meant that my evening was only spoilt by not winning the raffle.
Well done Dereham, you continue to set the standard!"