Opening scene with Tinbad and the Chorus
Pantomime, as we know it today, is a form of entertainment
all on its own, derived from ballet, opera, music hall, and the
realms of folklore and fairy tale - and elements of all these are
still to be found in it. This strange mixture has created a splendid
topsy-turvy world where men are women, women are men, where the
present is embraced within the past, where people are hit but not
hurt, where authority is constantly flouted, where everything is
open to ridicule - including the Pantomime itself at times - and
where, above all, magic abounds and dreams invariably come true.
Sinbad is no exception.......
The talent, the tantrums, the excitement, the terror, and most of
all the great fun of the Panto, has heralded the start of the Christmas
season in Helmdon.
Brian Austin's directorial debut upheld the high standards of the
Bridge Players with a Panto that had all the sparkle that we have
come to love.
Being director can be a lonely job, and hard decisions have to be
taken. Who but a brave man would cast Morag Underwood as a dressmaker's
dummy with only four words to say? You wouldn't think much could
be done with such a role, but Morag did it with panache.
Sinbad (Nicola Dent)
checking on where we
were in the script.
The Panto, Sinbad the Sailor, is a poignant tale
of love transcending barriers of class, parental disapproval and
Sinbad is a young man helping his widowed mother
run her dairy with milk from their beloved dromedary Drusilla. Curiously,
Drusilla's humps shrank and expanded throughout the evening. This
may have been to do with the discrepancy in height between the dedicated
actors inside her (David Jenkins and Jamie Garner).
Sinbad, thigh slappingly and gleefully played by Nicola Dent, meets
and falls in love with Princess Yasmin, played by Ruth Underwood.
The princess's father, the Caliph, (Sue Blackburn) has arranged
for her to marry an elderly Indian Prince but of course in the end,
true love triumphs.
It isn't possible to give everyone who appeared the full credit
they deserve but Paul Stothard deserves a special mention. His first
Panto with the Bridge Players and he jumps right into the deep end
and takes on the part of the Dame. He played her with a subtlety
and refinement seldom associated with the Bridge Players. The chemistry
of his relationship with Dave Bridger, who played the love interest,
was haunting. The audience really cared what happened to them.
Mrs Sinbad (Paul Stothard). Finesse and elegance personified!
The chorus, the youngest of whom are only 9 years
old, proved themselves to be real troupers, doing four performances
in three days with enthusiasm, dedication and gusto. Their monkey
dance was beautifully choreographed and executed on a striking set.
It fizzed with fun and energy.
The set was painted single handedly by Peter Fisher and it was truly
beautiful. It really conjured up a middle eastern flavour and set
the scene perfectly.
The wardrobe mistresses this year were Louise Stothard and Morag
Underwood; music was provided by Lizzy Woolley and last year's sensation
on drums, Neil Buckley.
A huge team of behind-the-scenes people doing lighting and props
ensured the smooth running of another great success for The Helmdon
photos this way >>>