Spring Pantomime 2012 - 'Dick Whittington....With A Twist'
N.O.D.A. (East) Review
by Stephen Hayter - Region E4N Representative
THE LAVENDER HILL MOB
Dick Whittington (With A Twist)
The Corn Exchange Kingís Lynn
Saturday May 20th 2012 (Matinee)
This may have been my first visit to a Lavender Hill Mob production but I was very aware of the special nature of this proudly inclusive drama group, best known for its work with disadvantaged and disabled children and famous for not holding auditions in favour of allowing everyone to take part. The Lavender Hill Mob have been entertaining local audiences since itís foundation in 2001 and this afternoon it was Pantomime time again as the May production was Dick Whittington (With a Twist).
Whatever else you may think, you have to admire the scale of a Lavender Hill production with a cast exceeding seventy and impressive backcloths (Scenic Products) with excellent costuming across the whole ensemble. Lighting at the Corn Exchange was suitable for the production and the musical presentation and sound more than acceptable.
The Chorus were enthusiastic and well organised, impressively so considering the quantity and ages of the participants. There were good supporting performances form Lucy Jenkins as Charley Chav; Brendan Colhoun as Mr Fitzwarren and Gemma Watling as scheming Sister Mary Fitzwarren. In the more prominent roles Zoe Adams was solid enough as Hero Dick Whittington allowing herself plenty of thigh slaps and Sophie Bush was suitably demure as love interest Alice Fitzwarren. Pam Smith was every inch the pantomime villain with her portrayal of Queen Rat and Mike Miles gave a good characterisation of Captain Nelson even if he was extremely shaky on his lines on one occasion taking three consecutive prompts. In complete contrast I was blown away by Ford Bailey as the Emperor who was completely confident with his words and used every ounce of his resolve to deliver them beautifully.
Top marks go to Poppy Gilding as Sixpence the cat and Caitlin Munro as tuppence the Ö other cat who worked tirelessly throughout and handled brilliantly a mountain of dialogue together with Rocca Jenkins who looked wonderful as Classic Dame Daisy the cook. Mr Jenkins delivered a fine characterisation although he struggled with his lines throughout on one occasion I thought I heard him utter (in despair) a word that was less than appropriate for a pantomime matinee audience, however the thunderous applause he received at the walk down suggested that I must have been mistaken.
It was only when I read more thoroughly the program notes that I noticed that the outstanding music used in this production was all original and written by Musical Director Tim Rock with lyrics by Les miles. I couldnít place the tunes but I had (Up to that point) been convinced they were recycled popular music. The finale song in particular staying in my head for many days after the final curtain had hit the floor. The script was also an original creation by Les Miles and whilst I thought it told the story well and incorporated a lot of characters a few more gags would perhaps have helped things along.
Congratulations to Director Les Miles and Musical Director Tim Rock for a fantastic achievement and not at all a bad afternoons entertainment.
Stephen P E Hayter