This evening I had a truly delightful experience at the Youth Group production of Alice in Wonderland. I was transported to a magical, fun and colourful world of nonsense by a group of talented, enthusiastic and dedicated performers who were clearly enjoying every minute of being on stage. I particularly enjoyed the identity crisis of Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee (Zoe Giles and Mischa Booyse), the camp terpsichorean antics of the Caterpillar (James Brodie) and the firebrand Queen of Hearts (Ruby Dye). But every single cast member was at the top of their game – whether in consistent characterisation, tuneful and strong singing or confident dancing – and made this a show to remember. It was a pleasure to see the sheer enjoyment on their faces as they performed the final song.
While the kids were great, I want to highlight the real stars of this production – and the Youth Group as a whole: the organising team. It was evident how much effort had gone into drilling the kids in their dances, acting and singing – and not only did this result in great performances, it gave the kids the confidence to go out and do it all with gusto and to cope when things didn’t go quite to plan with the recorded music and sound. It cannot be easy to maintain enthusiasm and performance standards throughout the extended period of weekly rehearsals.
Then of course there are the technical team who contribute so much through lighting, sound, a colourful set and costumes, and the backstage wrangling of set and actors. What made a particular impression on me for this production was the attention to detail front of house, from the dressing of the entrance and auditorium to the costumes of the front of house team – all themed to suit the production. I didn’t experience the tea, but I heard it was a great success. A lot of work went into this and it paid dividends in creating a positive, upbeat vibe even before the curtain went up. (Not to mention the pink gin on optics in the bar!)
Because this is meant to be a critical review of the show, I feel I ought to try and be critical – which is actually very difficult. My only comments are that I felt the kids could have been given more variety in things to do during the overture – it became a little repetitive. Perhaps more of the cast could have been out in the audience interacting with us, as that worked well at other points in the show. And why was the White Rabbit dressed in black? Not that this detracted from her performance in any way!
Having said that, I want to congratulate Naomi and her team for such a joyous theatrical experience. I’m already looking forward to the next one!
We spent the night experiencing Thoroughly Modern Musical. It was a well-staged production that clearly showed a lot of love and effort. The set was stripped back with an industrial feel. The lights were highlighting the themes and tones of each show with simple colours and uplighting to compliment the staging. It created a different atmosphere that was refreshing. Songs started from many different directions and sometimes from within the audience which added a different flavour and style to the show straight away.
The band were highlighted on the main part of the stage which was great to see as they did an amazing job, moving from song to song with different styles. They played each number with enjoyment that was infectious and clear to see in the audience. Brilliantly led my Peter Nicholson they tackled difficult numbers with a variety of full band and stripped back numbers.
The soloists were well suited to their given songs and it certainly made us consider musicals to see in the future (including some we hadn’t heard of beforehand!). It was lovely to see some new faces and some frequent favourites. A welcome and congratulation to new faces Mia and Sophie who showed us how different vocal styles both rocky and more traditionally musical theatre belong on the riverside stage with ‘I’d rather be me’ from Mean girls and ‘Legally Blonde’ from Legally Blonde. We hope they are here to stay. A surprise came from new performers Liam with ‘You’ll be back’ from Hamilton which showed evolving flair and Harry with ‘Objects in the rearview mirror’ from Bat out of hell and ‘Legally Blonde’ which showed such feeling for a new performer. Congratulations to these gentlemen who have previously hidden backstage or in the tower, we hope they don’t hide away in future.
Kudos should be given to the simple yet effective costuming where everyone wore the same black base with suggestions of details which helped convey the style without going over the top. Some costume sharing in the form of a simple jacket helped create continuity. In some cases, a simple ruff or hat added the detail needed and in others more complex details with a full Arthurian outfit completed the look.
A show that was unlike any other musical reviews we have seen with audience participation and a surprise hello was just the thing to help bring modern musicals to Eynsford. We would happily attend the sequel!
It’s panto time again – well nearly!
Travel with Riverside Players to Sherwood Forest and join Robin Hood and his Merry Men to help them foil the dastardly plans of Malevola, the Sheriff of Nottingham’s evil sister, and save the lives of the innocent Babes who are lost in the wood.
Auditions for Riverside Players’ 2020 pantomime Babes in the Woodtake place on Sunday 8th September at 5pm at the Village Hall. There are roles available for all ages, from 8 to 80, so don’t be shy.
Or come and meet the production team and have a chance to read through the script on either Monday 2nd September at 8pm or Wednesday 4th September at 8.30pm, again at the Village Hall.
If you are interested but can’t make any of these dates, or if you need further information, please contact director Lorraine Slipper on 07478 681478 to arrange an alternative audition time.
Riverside Players are a friendly group and we always welcome new members, whether on stage, back stage or front of house.
We look forward to seeing you!
Lorraine Slipper – Director
Audition Song: Please bring along a song to sing and send your backing track or sheet music to [email protected] If you are unsure of what to sing, the backup song is Little People from Les Miserables.
|Robin Hood||The legendary outlaw who fights for the rights of the poor in the absence of King Richard the Lionheart||M/F||Robin, Marian, Jill, Will|
|Maid Marian||The ward of the Sheriff of Nottingham, cousin to King Richard and Robin’s true love.||F
|Robin, Marian, Jill, Will|
|Little John||A not so little (and somewhat henpecked) Merry Man.||M|
|Will Scarlett||A less than merry Merry Man as he can’t find the courage to tell Jill Crimson that he loves her.||M/F||Robin, Marian, Jill, Will|
|Alan A-Dale||The Merry Men’s clown and musician… except that he can’t sing and has been banned from karaoke nights at the tavern for causing havoc. Physical comedy role||M/F||Little John, Robin, Will, Alan, Tuck, Much, Mysterious Stranger, Big Joan|
|Friar Tuck||A holy man who offers spiritual guidance to the Merry Men… in the form of beer mostly||M||Little John, Robin, Will, Alan, Tuck, Much, Mysterious Stranger, Big Joan|
|Much the Miller’s Son||Constantly trying to prove he’s worthy of joining the Merry Men, even though they tell him he’s too young (under 16)||M||Forest Spirit, Babes, Much|
|Big Joan||Little Jon’s wife and owner of the tavern. She is… formidable||F||Little John, Robin, Will, Alan, Tuck, Much, Mysterious Stranger, Big Joan|
|Jill Crimson||Marian’s lady-in-waiting… that is, waiting to declare her love for Will Scarlett!||F||Robin, Marian, Jill, Will|
|Dame Trott||Governess to the babes and in love with the Sheriff of Nottingham (dame role).||M/F||Captain, Dame Trott|
|Alice/Arthur||An orphaned distant cousin to the Sheriff of Nottingham. S/he is brave and plucky (under 16)||M/F||Forest Spirit, Babes, Much|
|Simon/Sarah||Brother/sister of Alice – and just as brave (under 16)||M/F||Forest Spirit, Babes, Much|
|Sheriff of Nottingham||A total idiot with a heart of gold.||M|
|Malevola||The Sheriff’s evil sister and the true brains behind all the evil plans||F||Malevola, Evil Spirit, Sheriff, Captain|
|Captain of the Guard||The somewhat incompetent commanding officer of the Sheriff of Nottingham’s soldiers, who likes to try and outdo Malevola in the evil laughing stakes. He also has an unexpected soft side.||M/F||Captain, Dame Trott|
|The Mysterious Stranger||He is nosy… and mysterious! Until the end of the Panto when his true identity is revealed.||M||Mysterious Stranger|
|Page||Servant to the Mysterious Stranger||M/F|
|Forest Spirit||Guardian of Sherwood Forest and friend to anyone who tries to protect it. Flexibility for solo singing or non-singing actors, or dancers who would like to act and perform a solo dance.||M/F||Forest Spirit, Babes, Much|
|Chorus||A chorus of villagers, guards, evil spirits, castle servants, children at the castle school, woodland animals, a ghost.||M/F|
Sat 27th April 2019
1pm & 6:30pm
Eynsford Village Hall
Tickets £11 (£9 for concessions)
Includes a Ploughman’s Supper
Book Now: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/dementiacafe
Ferne Haxby and Naomi Morgan along with the rest of the Riverside Players Youth Group & friends of the Eynsford and Farningham Dementia Cafe are raising money! As this is such a great cause, we would urge you to book tickets for this event sponsored by Vitality Home Health. The event will consist of two plays being performed, a ploughman’s supper and a bumper raffle. As the cafe relies 100% on donations (no fees are ever charged), proceeds will go towards the cafe so it can continue to provide crucial social interaction and support for those living with dementia be it as a relative, carer, friend or, of course, those diagnosed with the disease. We strive to raise awareness and give support where we can.
Both Ferne and Naomi have first hand experience of the devastating toll this disease takes both on those living with it and those around them. They are fully committed to doing everything they can to ease the pathways of others.
Written and Directed by Naomi Morgan
The Riverside Players Youth Group shall be performing Chocolate Muffins which is a view of dementia through the eyes of a child.
Bothered and Bewildered
Written by Gail Young and Directed by Ferne Haxby
Friends of the Cafe (including some Riverside Players members) will be performing this funny and poignant tale of Eileen’s pathway through dementia with her funny ‘friend’ Barbara.
Win Big! Two Tickets to a West End show with overnight accommodation + travel plus much much more.
We have been lucky enough to have experienced enormous generosity from our sponsor and the local businesses. First prize is a bumper one of two west end show tickets with overnight accommodation and travel. We also have a month’s free gym membership from Brands Hatch Place, family tickets to local attractions, meals out for two, hampers, spa treatments and much much more. Raffle tickets will be available from most local businesses, Ferne, Naomi, the Cafe and its friends, the Youth Group. If someone isn’t selling you a ticket beforehand, you can buy them on the day at the event.
We look forward to seeing you there!
The views are in!
Mike Lewin (Audience Member)
Matt Friett took the director’s chair for the first time in this year’s panto, Little Red Riding Hood, and stamped his own mark on the production, casting youngsters Neve Prior and Fred McGahan in starring roles.
It might sound risky to place so much responsibility on ones so young, but on closer analysis it makes perfect sense: they embodied the “have-a-go” spirit of Panto, engaged well with the young audience, and will hopefully inspire a new generation of actors into the Riverside Youth Group. Both Neve (Little Red) and Fred (Little Boy Blue) did excellently, giving performances as confident and accomplished as any of the adults.
They were well supported by an experienced cast including Tony Fish, Lorraine Slipper, Kirstie McMillan and Ferne Haxby, all perfectly cast and giving strong performances. Jason Down was a fine wolf, channeling his inner “Hammer Horror baddie” persona that had served him so well as Dr. Prospero in 2016’s Return to the Forbidden Planet. His velvet smoking jacket was a perfect touch, and thankfully his lewd innuendos went over the youngsters’ heads!
Jack Barker, who put in a great performance last year as “Laughalot”, saw his dreams come true this time around as he got to pull on a frock and play the Queen. He is perfectly suited for Panto, poking fun at himself and bringing the whole audience along with him. I was disappointed that he didn’t get a solo dance number this year, but he at least performed a passable floss in a well – choreographed group number.
All the components that we expect from a good panto were there, and delivered with aplomb – from the sound balancing of the mics with the tight 7-piece band to the prompt changes of the well produced painted scenery. The Monty Python references, the bad puns (ham-bush), the community sing-along and of course the obligatory “it’s-behind-you”s and “oh-yes-it-is”es.
Friett did a good job of dragging a very traditional story into the 21st century, ensuring that both Red and Grandmother were agents in their own fate and not merely damsels to be rescued. And the stand-out moment of the night was Woodcutter James Lee’s performance of the iconic pop hit Wrecking Ball . As the spotlight came on and he ripped off his burly gear to reveal a silver hot pant jump suit, the whole audience, young and old, was in equal measures surprised, amused and entertained. His pouting and swooning was spot on, and by the time he’d leapt up onto the eponymous swinging ball the whole place was in stitches. It was a genius move, perfect both in conception and execution, and one that deserves to go down as one of the great moments inRiverside history.
Janice Redway (Assistant NODA Representative)
The Village Hall provides a well-appointed venue for Riverside Players and albeit tucked away, is by no means discreet in respect of performance. An almost full house was testament to the popularity of both pantomime as a tradition and Riverside Players themselves. A warm welcome was had from front of house but the foyer would have been `hotted` up by some representation of what we were about to see. Posters; photos; pull-up banner; cardboard cut-out or any other type of decoration would have set the scene as soon as you walked in. The programmes were very lively with action photos and way-out centre pages; great inclusion of the puzzles and colourful images. NODA also had a mention but always good for readers to have a little information on what NODA is about (extra marks if you want to enter the programme competition!)
Ferne Haxby [Grandma] who directed last years’ very successful pantomime, gave a sterling and natural performance throughout and looked just the part in her costumes – great wig! A professional performance and one, which was consistent, came from Jason Down [The Big Bad Wolf]. He was fascinating to watch, using subtle mannerisms and excellent clarity of speech. He offered good comic timing and his make-upwas excellent. Tony Fish [The Evil Wizard] epitomised evil with his attire and `sweeping` movements, striking a balance between really evil and not quite so evil. Neve Prior [Little Red Riding Hood] and Fred McGahan [Little Boy Blue] added the youth element and both played their parts well. Neve sung sweetly and Fred had good stage presence. Both principal girl and boy offered good diction but needed to slow their dialogue. They were suitably absorbed by their parts especially Fred, and pace will come with experience. Neve looked stunning in her red cloak but Fred needed more blue. Lorraine Slipper; Kirstie McMillan and Finn Prior [Pigs Ant, And, Dec] added the slap-stick dimension and they warmed in the second half, going from appearing a little awkward to settling into their roles with more purpose. They were the fun ingredients and Finn especially gave this physical comedy his all by offering style and bold gestures. The noses were very effective and the costumes visually stimulating. Jack Barker [Queen Finger] and Harry Lee [King Thumb] were true to their names and well-cast, as were all the performers. Jack did well to try and maintain a high-pitched voice, which did at times, lapse into baritone. More exaggerated make-up, a pristine wig and a full skirt would have enhanced his untidy look. James Lee [The Woodcutter] played a convincing role with clarity of speech. A great voice, rich and clear. His solo in the second half showcased his versatility with some emotional moments coupled with humour. He used the `negative` space well. Heidi Phillpott [choreographer] did a good job moving the cast and the Dancers especially, were in sync. with their routines which blended with the story-line but their moves needed more feeling and positivity.
Amongst the `Oh yes he is` and `Booing` moments which suitably `peppered` the show, there were gems, like `Who Will Buy`; `Sisters Are Doing It By Themselves`; the ball and chain, which surprised; the turtle which amused; the bucket over the head; the clever play on words and the alternative Jenga which delighted the audience, especially when the boxes were miss aimed.
The musicians were in harmony with the actors and produced some good incidental music, which also helped those struggling with ad-libbing during some of the scene changes. They all managed to `pull-it-off` however and some of the audience vocalised their appreciation.
It was obvious that all involved had really worked hard and the camaraderie on stage showed. It was a lovely touch to address the audience with poetry at the end, against the backdrop of a moving windmill sail. It is always good to have the opportunity to speak to the Director and being introduced to the Musical Director and Choreographer was appreciated. Congratulations go to Matt for his debut in both the writing and directing and to all involved who gave everyone a fun and pleasant evening.
Love being a Riverside Player? Interested in getting involved in making decisions on what shows we do?
If so please contact committee for an nomination form to join us! We have an 8 person committee at present and will be looking for someone to make the magic number of 9. Monthly meetings are your only specific commitment. (but don’t worry we organise these to suit as many of us as possible) No previous experience required, just a love for the group and an interest in taking change of an aspect of the group, behind the scenes.
We look forward to hearing from you.