CAMELOT THE PANTO
Eynsford Village Hall
Director – Ferne Haxby
Musical Director – Dale Wills
Choreographer – Heidi Phillpott
Friday 19th January 2018
Review by Janice Redway (Assistant NODA representative)
A welcoming venue and a little ‘gem’ of a theatre tucked away in Eynsford Village. Being somewhat hidden away however, did not detract from audience numbers which were respectable for their first night. Riverside Players are obviously a well-respected and well-patronised group and being able to speak with Ferne Haxby (Director) ‘cemented’ this. First impressions can be revealing and the well-produced far-out programme, set the scene for a fun evening. It is always good to see NODA included. (Please note that NODA is an Association and not a society.) Individual cast synopsis always makes for even more interesting reading
Kirstie McMillan (Morgan Le Fay) offered a strong performance throughout, in all aspects and encouraged the audience to have their traditional ‘booing’ moments. Lorraine Slipper (mum) was suitably ‘constipated’ towards Matt Friett (Valerin the Vicious) who in turn gave a mesmerising and animated performance. Jack Barker (Laughalot) energetically maintained the humour with a ‘peppering’ of traditional audience participation, which certainly helped the first half along as the pace here was rather slow. Peter Nicholson’s Merlin was at times inaudible and it was evident that he lacked a little stage craft. He was much more confident in the second half and once the beard went he was more audible. James Lee (Arthur) appeared suitably regal but came across as being unsure of where his loyalties lay. His approach to both his father and Guinevere seemed inconsistent and offered mixed messages. Steve Fenlon (King Uther) was all that he should have been. James and Jen Armstrong (Guinevere) offered some lovely tender moments with sweet singing, changing the mood and enabling the audience to ‘yo yo’ their emotions. Kaz Cockburn (Gilda) impressed with her portrayal of a Tyrolean and Vicki Adams-Salmon (Connie Clatterbottom) offered a solid performance and was creative with the ad-libbing. Phil Ward (Marlon) really got into his character by the second half and the Knights worked effectively, adding yet another comic dimension. The youngest amongst them, demonstrating style and offering good gestures and rhythmical movement. The Evil Sisterhood were a welcome addition to the entertainment. They blended well within the storyline but their moves needed to be danced with much more feeling. Their French plaits were immaculate. Sharron Burley (Teddy) did a sterling job, in what must have been a difficult costume to manoeuvre in.
Effective and clever sets with smooth scene changes; fabulous costumes; well- chosen music; great creativity and innovation; accomplished band, albeit a little loud at times for some singers; spot on lighting, apart from a couple of occasions; efficient front of house and thankfully an underused prompt.
It was clear that all involved in this musical comedy worked as a team to produce a fun show which saw tradition and modernity ‘fuse’ together. Interval music was conducive with the up-beat atmosphere and the ice creams and appearance of Teddy, were a lovely ‘touch’.
Congratulations to Ferne for her ‘added sparkle’ and all the team for a faster paced second half and a thoroughly enjoyable evening and good night out.