This pantomime kicks of my own festive season of theatre, with so many productions planned on the Isle of Wight we are very lucky to have a packed theatre schedule from December right through until February. Whether you fancy taking the family to a larger production or one of the community events there is something for everyone and panto-queen Sarah Scotcher has pulled off another smash hit.
The Pied Piper of Hamelin was another sell-out year for Shorwell Drama Club, in fact Shorwell Stores sold all tickets for the 5-show run in just 10 minutes! The production responded by adding another night turning the dress-rehearsal into opening night and a 6-show sell out.
As we took our seats, we saw the pianist (Kim Ball, another stalwart of the Island theatre scene) was ready and a quick scan of the audience confirms this is a real community event bringing people of all ages together.
We were welcomed with the beautiful fairy Izzi Rudd with her magic wand and a sprinkle of fairy-dust, but it isn’t long before nasty Sour Kraut enters and sets the scene for the evening. His dodgy chum Ratwurst played by Jason Harris, last seen cracking 39 lashes in Jesus Christ Superstar is another baddy, inviting a chorus of boos and hisses.
Next at the town square we are joined by a fabulous cast of all ages, including Burgomeister George Webster who carried the role of the town mayor well, demanding rent money from his tenants. I noted immediately how everyone seemed to be having fun. The cast sang the opening number of Kool and the Gang’s ‘Celebration’ which got our feet tapping before the audience participation really began!
We are introduced to a happy couple Heidi and Hans played by Marina Ignarski and Rebecca Finch. A special mention goes to Rebecca Finch who is particularly enthusiastic as one of theprinciple boys Hans, leading the dancing to popular numbers such as ‘Happiness’ by Ken Dodd and their touching duet ‘Endless Love’. Her exuberant personality shines and she can carry a tune that fills the hall. The children of the cast were brilliant, and it is lovely to see the next generation coming through. The lighting and scenery were impressive especially setting the scene of asewer in such a small hall.
The Dame is always my favourite part of a pantomime and John Woodford did not disappoint. There were costume changes for almost every scene, the sausage stuffing factory is a particular highlight. Hilarity ensues and there’s jokes and innuendo galore!
We are finally introduced to the Pied Piper, Pippin played by talented actor/museo Emily Scotcher who brings along her own flute and leads the cast in song. She has a lovely solo to a slightly re-written ‘A Whole New World’ and saves the day ridding the town of rats.
This was one of the best pantomimes I have seen, the smaller cast of friends and intimate local venue has a rustic charm and is what Christmas is all about. Bringing people together. Highly recommend putting the 2020 date in your diary but you might have to camp outside overnight for the tickets!
Reviewed by Madeleine Holmes.