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2 - 4th January 2003


Peter Denyer


Chris Abbott & Margaret Chick



All involved in the production should feel very proud - it was a really enjoyable evening.

Chris Abbott and Maggie Chick did a fantastic job - the script was well chosen and the show rattled along at great pace, proving that you can cram it all into two hours and not miss out on anything. Quality rather than quantity seemed to be their intent and they certainly succeeded. The action was never slowed down by too many songs or dragging moments. The show had all the requisite panto essentials in spades, plus a few surprises. I thought the willow pattern puppet sequence was delightful and it was great to see other theatrical forms being introduced. The cave transformation sequence was very impressive – really well thought out, designed and executed.

Chris Abbott’s set design was fantastic - at last someone has managed to make that front curtain and proscenium look interesting! The clear bright colours and graphic shapes worked beautifully. The set also looked extremely well built and painted. A real triumph.

The costumes were also really effective and well thought out. There was a consistency about the whole look of the show, which is sometimes missing. Too often in amateur productions there is a huge difference between flashy hired costumes and the rest of the show. There was a real feeling of harmony about the whole look of the show - both set and costumes. The design of the make-up was also good but perhaps in a few cases a little heavily applied for the size of the hall (John Bohan looks quite scary enough anyway!)

The great backstage team is to be congratulated. I was amazed that the list of backstage staff was almost as long as the cast list - it must have been hellishly crowded in those wings, but no-one would have guessed that from out front as it all appeared to run very smoothly

It was great to see so many young faces on stage, both amongst the chorus and the principals. Charlotte Williams as Aladdin oozed confidence and had a rapport with the audience that belied her years. She had all the right vim and vigour for a principal boy. Although her singing voice sounded strained at times this was possibly due to the strenuousness of panto week. Caroline Chick was a delightful princess without being too girly about it and sang a really difficult song beautifully. I was staggered to realise that they were both so young and I look forward to seeing them both grow as performers after such a fantastic beginning.

Paul Riches seemed to tackle his Dame debut with great relish and was a huge success. Achieving the right balance between camp, tradition, grotesque and innuendo is never easy but he did a great job.

Amongst the more seasoned performers Pete Ranford was charmingly bumbling as the Emperor.

Chrissy Watson, who played Wishee Washee, is a real asset to Parish Players. She is such good value in panto - she knows how to work the crowd and does so with gusto, and her enthusiasm and enjoyment always shine through.

John Bohan as Abanazar, gave a really well judged performance, using his impressive stage presence (and height) to give a rather modern villain - more scary in stillness than any amount of cape acting and moustache twirling and funny with it.

One of the great things about the evening was that everybody really shone. There was no feeling of more experienced performers carrying the show - a real feeling of teamwork and shared enthusiasm.

The all important supporting roles were all played really well. Genies appeared on cue and wove their spells with relish. PC’s Ping and Pong (Anne Carroll & Emily Miller) were lively, funny and likeable. The guards, pages et al all performed very well. I particularly liked mini Wishee Washee played by Avinash Tharoor-Menon.

The well choreographed chorus was lively and enthusiastic. They all reacted well and felt like part of the whole action - this may seem obvious but is often not the case. The band were also extremely good

Overall the evening was a real box of delights - mixing all the necessary elements of traditional panto with unexpected moments. It seemed to me to be what Parish Players are all about- great teamwork and an enthusiasm that rolls across the footlights. Everyone really looked as if they were enjoying themselves and I think the audience responded to the warmth of the whole evening. Really well done.


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