A medley of tales to celebrate 40 years of panto

Plumpton panto
Plumpton panto

Variety is the spice of life, it is said and to celebrate 40 years of pantomime in Plumpton the local society treated its audiences to plenty of it.

To mark the special occasion they put on a medley of traditional panto stories in one breathtaking show. The tales were not seamlessly blended but were slotted together in a clever and successful manner.

There were seven main characters who retained their similar identities throughout, thus providing a continuity of roleplay.

As always the director, Duncan Taylor-Jones, was a showstopper as The Fool. His versatility, energy and talent never cease to amaze.

The Girl, the lovely princess, was played by Annabel Sanders in a confident, charming and captivating manner. Charlie Wycherley was up there again in his favourite role as The Dame and one is always left wondering why he blooms so well when dressed up in women’s clothes.

The role of The Boy, namely principal boy, was in the very capable hands of young Hannah Kirby whose role changes were quite marked and included Aladdin, Jack, Dick Whittington and various princes.

Marianne Cole has given up the role of principal boy and slipped comfortably into playing The Witch. Her Evilness had little difficulty in drawing loud boos and hisses from the audience who revelled in hating her. When not a wicked witch she was an equally detestable queen from Snow White and an Ugly Sister.

More sparkle came from the somewhat dippy Welsh fairy, well portrayed by Nancy Doyle. She waved her magic wand at quite a rate of knots, creating good while causing flashes, bangs and puffs of smoke in the process.

The Apprentice was that hulk David Rankin who was serving his apprenticeship to the wicked witch and carried out his tasks in the expected bungling way with enthusiasm. He, too, became an Ugly Sister.

All these different characters meant that there were countless costume changes but the cast coped admirably.

In among it all and sometimes for no apparent reason, there appeared such characters as Robin Hood, the Pied Piper, Red Riding Hood, Captain Hook, Goldilocks, Tiger Lily and so on. Seasoned troupers this year took some minor roles with Derrick Taylor as The Herald, Pete Jones as The King, Carol Symes as The Queen and Graham Meheux as The Genie. As always the chorus provided some bright, breezy, melodic and well-staged numbers.

The number of costume changes also necessitated a vast number of costumes, but their quality was superb throughout and provided much colour and sparkle.

Plumpton pantos would not be complete without Carol Grant’s little dancers who never cease to captivate members of the audience. The band may be small but the musicians use their talents to good effect and produce a professional sound.

Plumpton audiences have come to expect sets that are interesting and of the highest standard. They were not disappointed this year. Similarly, lighting and effects topped the bill for quality.

Producer, Dave Denny, did a good job and still found time to appear as the Lord Chamberlain and in the chorus.

Forty years ago the tradition of pantomime was started in Plumpton by the PTA at the village primary school and later taken onboard by Plumpton Pantomime Society and it has been a success story all the way.