Month: April 2017

REVIEW: ALI BABA ANDTHE FORTY THIEVES

Ewhurst Players “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”

Ewhurst Village Hall – 27th January, 2017

 

Though not performed as frequently now as in olden days, Ali Baba and The Forty Thieves remains on the panto rota and here was made somewhat “less gory” by Director Marian Heathcote than the original tale of the Arabian Nights, thankfully.   Containing all the elements we associate with traditional panto, this version by Alan P Frayn was therefore well chosen with the usual local and topical references eg Fatima’s Hazelbank Store, that “well known Iraqi grocery chain” with stores throughout Baghdad, and one in Ewhurst too, quaintly!

 

A generally strong company of twenty two, including a few children and very young adults all gave their utmost energy and talent to make the show run smoothly, which it did.

 

Outstanding performances were given by the following;  Andrew Hull as Mustafa with boyish daft charm and a range of comical facial expressions;  Wendy Davies as Queen, charisma and experience obviously showing through;  Daniel Williams as Asbad, chief of thieves, with plenty of attack and verve in the role;  Barrie Heathcote as a highly effective Vizier with world weariness and superb diction, even in a smaller role;  Nicki Payne as Bashim and Julia Heathcote as Grabbit, the idiot baddie double act with superb mutual rapport, timing and delivery of lines, and comic business.    They were all top drawer performers.

 

Only a tad less than excellent were Sophie Shickell as Ali Baba, in the principal boy role;  Chris Dews in the Dame part of Fatima, who just needed to point his phrases a little more and use pauses to be truly dynamic.   He certainly has stage presence and there is a gifted Dame there, given more experiences in these roles;  Alsatia the dog (evil) in black played by Lou Worby and her opposite number Caterina the cat (good) in white, played by Catherine van’t Riet – both worked really well, but again needed a little more attack in general.

 

That extra 10% makes all the difference and – though this is a general  rather than specific observation – top panto performers  must be larger than life with huge energy, confident delivery, much use of body language and facial expressions.   The very best players have all these qualities, most of which are only gained through stage experience, which can however sometimes be found even in relatively younger players.

 

Sharon Welland did really well as Marjana, (the slave girl and story heroine) and so did Jo McInnes as Crown Prince (son of the Sultan) and Kats Koster-Shadbolt as the Princess (whom he marries).   Fabian Cole gave good support as Notsobad, the stage partner of Asbad.   Fabian apparently took over the role at short notice, most creditably.   Double acts and especially baddie ones have such potential for fun and both Daniel and Fabian added greatly to the show’s enjoyment.

 

Bill Pilcher, clad in turban was a most competent Sultan and Natalie Davies, the daughter to the Vizier was a pretty and realistic storyteller Scheherazade.

 

Chorus members Peter Bradley, Imogen Fowler and Melissa Sweet all played full parts doubling as thieves, dancers etc.  with the three children Lucy Payne, Neave van’t Riet and Katie Welland all showing promise in smaller roles.

 

Camelia the camel was not credited in the programme, which is a shame as he / she did well.   Talking camels are not often found in panto, but I was very pleased that Camelia could talk, and did so – extremely well in fact! Skin parts are a major part of panto and the two people involved deserve a mention!

 

In general the performance had pace – and certainly energy – but only on a few occasions cues were slow to be picked up.

 

The opening set of two bead curtains covering stage exits left and right with turbans painted above were effectively portrayed and the director Marian Heathcote, who is highly experienced, used the rather small stage to its utmost, to her great credit.

 

The music throughout was sung lustily and tunefully, though panto players are not known for their operatic power, as was evidenced here.    Song highlights were these – “Life’s a Happy Song”;  “We could have been  anything we wanted to be”;  “The moment I wake up / It must be Love”;  “All by Myself”;  “You are the Wind beneath my Wings” (excellent comedy and hilarious routine);  “The more I see You”;  “Be Our Guest”;  “Love was made for Me and You”;  and finally the Finale song “We got the Feeling”.   I found the drumming rather loud on the opening number “Panto Express”, but perhaps my ears became attuned as, after that, the band under Musical Director Simon Fraser gave good support with just the right volume.

 

Many of the panto scenes were done outstandingly well, my particular favourites being these:  the Hazelbank Store;   Alsatia and Caterina dialogue scene; Bashim and Grabbit as new gang members, wearing “L” plates;  the corny dog jokes (Pal, Chum, Winalot etc);  the kitchen scene – very strong and most effective, (though I trust the coated sponges “frisbeed” into the audience during my visit were thrown out less enthusiastically during subsequent performances);  Camelia’s entrance and Ali Baba’s  singing; spirits of the Cave (Junior chorus in attractive gold costumes);  the strobe lighting for Ali Baba’s escape (an effective end to Act one);  Fatima’s jokes with audience;  the white chalk cross scene on Ali Baba’s door;  the oil sheiks disguised with beard and sandals(classic panto at its best!);  Notsobad’s tongue twister (superbly done);   young lady dancer and her acrobatics;  the songsheet scene (“Ali Baba’s camel”) really well run by Mustafa;  the Act two finale.

 

Sophie Shickell, doubling as Choreographer set mainly simple dance and movement routines which were well rehearsed, well carried out and which contributed much to the show’s success.

 

Wardrobe under Anne Lyth with Fee Fraser, Molly Fraser and Hilary Pannell was well above average panto standard and made a strong impression overall.   There was plenty of bright colour, which is vitally important.   Alsatia and Caterina were particularly effective, as were the Sultan, Vizier, Marjana “et al”.

 

Make up and hair was done in real panto style – I especially liked Alsatia / Caterina – and credit must go to Nicki Payne and Sophie Shickell!

 

Lighting and sound effects were well used by Carl Osborne and Bob Foley respectively.

 

Though I have noted a few possible areas for improvement, the whole production was highly enjoyable with all the important ingredients and in particular the vital company energy and life being very much in evidence.   The company did the production team and themselves, not to mention the audience, proud.

 

Lighting          Carl Osborne

Sound              Warwick James

 

 

Jon Fox – NODA District 19

NEWSLETTER APRIL 2017

 Newsletter No. 405 – April 2017

 

Dear Members,

 

HAPPY EASTER ONE AND ALL….!!!

I hope that you are all enjoying the beautiful Easter sunshine! This is my first attempt at writing the Players newsletter so sit back, read and enjoy.

 

Voyage DVD showing

A massive ‘thank you’ to Fudge for organising a very successful evening, many have

remarked on how much they enjoyed themselves! Also – HUGE thanks to Bob Foley as always for filming the show and for putting together the fantastic DVD for us all to enjoy. Recording these moments for the archive is hugely important and we appreciate that it is a time-consuming task that we are always extremely grateful for – Thanks Bob!

 

Quartet by Ronald Harwood – May 2017

Meg has reported that all is going well with rehearsals and that the set has been designed and built.

However – It wouldn’t be a Ewhurst Players show without a little added ‘Drama’, so we take this opportunity to inform you of a change of cast member. We welcome George Yates onto the cast. In a change to the original cast, George has kindly offered to take the role of ‘Reggie’. With just over 4 weeks to go this will certainly prove to be a challenge for George so let’s all offer any help and support he needs to take this part on at short notice. The cast are working hard all always and it is shaping up to be a wonderful show.

 

Most of the backstage crew has been filled but we are always looking for support.  So, if you think you would like to help decorate the set please contact Nicki :07920 779 792 or if decorating is not your thing, we still need help front of house, serving the fish and chips or running the bar.  Please let Chris know on 01483 272378.

 

Tickets go on sale on Tuesday 18th April, please make sure you book them in good time so that you are not disappointed.

Box Office details

17th – 20th May 2017 Doors open 7pm & Perfomance starts at 7.45pm

£15.00 p/person includes your Fish & Chips & a Pud. BAR will be available with wine, beer and soft drinks from 7pm  –  Box office – OPENS Tuesday 18th April – book online via – https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/ewhurstplayers

Or for those require phone booking – please call 01483 272378.

For more info about the play – please see the Ewhurst Players Website.

 

Your New Committee

Committee members and an outline of responsibilities are as follows:

Chairman            –              Chris Dews

Secretary             –              Barry Harrison-Fudge

Treasurer            –              Tricia Cooper

Bill Pilcher          –              Technical Advisor and Digital Memorabilia.

Victoria House   –              Social Media and Membership.

Sophie Shickell  –              Social invites including Noda Rep and Fact Sheets

Carl Osborne      –              Website Content updates and Script Management

Nicki Payne         –             Audition File, Hall Bookings, Child safeguarding and Lead Chaperone.

 

Co-opted onto the committee:

Jo McInnes         –             Publicity

 

We are here to help run the group, if there is anything you need please feel free to speak to one of us.

 

This year, some of the ‘duties’ of the Secretary have been divided between the committee members to ensure a more even spread of duties can be achieved. This also means that the Secretary role is not so onerous and time consuming for one individual to handle.

 

ALL secretary related enquiries should be directed to Fudge, who will forward to the relevant person to deal with if it isn’t himself. Thank you!!!

 

Retiring Officers & committee members – THANK YOU!!!

As the first newsletter from your new 2017 committee may we take this opportunity once more to say another HUGE thank you to the retiring officers and committee members for their tireless work and commitment to The Players over recent years. Especially Hillary and Angela who have both committed huge amounts of time and energy to the cause and leave a nice tidy, steady ship in their wake. Thank you, guys, !!! xx Fudge

 

Future Events

Sunday 2nd July, East Beach, Littlehampton.  All welcome including 4 legged friends, similar to last year with a BBQ and kite flying to name some of the fun.

Keep an eye on the newsletters for more info about this and other exciting future events.

 

November 2017

Again, we send out a plea!!!!  We desperately need a production but more importantly we need YOU !

 

the director!!  Please come forward as soon as you can so that we can fill this void!

 

That’s all for now, we look forward to speaking to you soon.

Sophie