Cinderella – KYDS
Performed at Thurstable School, Tiptree, November 28, 2015
Director – Alex Berriman, Choreographer – Dannii Carr
Cinderella, as performed by KYDS was a highly entertaining show. The relative lack of set, given the restrictions imposed by Thurstable School, didn’t seem to matter; there was sufficient colour provided by the costumes. This was a young and inexperienced cast, with only a handful of 17 years olds at the upper end of the age range but they danced and sang well, aided by microphones and a sympathetic sound system. All the usual characteristics of a pantomime were in place, with cross-dressing (on this occasion provided by the Ugly Sisters rather than a dame), a dancing horse, a comedy duo (Bodgett and Leggett), audience participation and plenty of slapstick. This was certainly one of the wittiest panto scripts I have come across and the dialogue helped enormously in giving the young company a strong base to work with. The technical components of the show all seemed to work well, with the ballroom clock being a particularly fascinating piece of kit. It seemed to move fluidly and continuously and yet miraculously got to 12 midnight at the correct point in the dialogue. How did that work? Well done back stage crew.
The choice of songs clearly suited a young company and presumably a youngish audience and the choreography was appropriate to the dance skills of the company. Around half of the company had a named part, with solo lines or dialogue, so this was a good choice of show for the group, providing valuable experience to those who have little experience of stage work. There are too many characters to mention individually but I can’t ignore the Ugly Sisters who seemed to be never off the stage. They developed a great rapport with the audience and provided the focus for the main running gag throughout the show, that of their propensity to being “man mad”. Whoever John was in the audience was clearly a good sport since he was the stooge that allowed Grizelda (a great debut by Tom Nicoll) to fire off so many great one liners.
Well done to all for a very enjoyable show.
Reviewer- Stewart Adkins
Regional representative – District 8
NORTH ESSEX THEATRE GUILD
SHOWCASE FESTIVAL 2015-16
Group: KYDS YOUTH DRAMA SOCIETY
Adjudication Date: 28th Noveber, Tiptree
Venue: Thurstable School, Tiptree
Adjudicator: Dawn King accompanied by David King
This was a first visit to see a KYDS pantomime. We knew little about the group before we arrived, but the helpful front of house team soon filled in some gaps, and the beautifully presented and informative programme did the rest.
The Thurstable School Hall presents a real challenge to a performing group in terms of atmosphere, but additional front of house staff in the auditorium, the sale of merchandise and the up-tempo pre show music meant that there was an excited and lively audience prior to the start of the performance. The interval arrangements were well organised and queues efficiently dealt with.
The stage is comparatively wide, compared to some venues, and relied heavily on the use of blacks in the wing space. However, it did allow for the creation of a permanent entrance to Hardship Hall on stage right which was well used to segment the set and the action in Act 1. The Fairy Godmother had her dais on the floor stage right, and whilst we were perfectly able to see her from our seats, I’m not sure that this was the same for all the audience. The Stonybroke village was very attractively painted on the Act 1 backdrop.
Act 2 made good use of the raised dais and stairs to recreate the ball scene, and to add interest to dance numbers. The silver and white effects used were effective
The props were well handled by the cast throughout the production. Grizelda and Gertrude’s colourful matching suitcases were a nice touch, and Bob the Bunny was an endearing chap – particularly liked by the small girl in front of us!! Bodgett and Leggett’s wheelbarrow was excellent, as was the oven for the Bake-Off scene.
Such a lot of work goes into creating the costumes for a pantomime, and we were very impressed with the level of detail in this production. The opening chorus sequence of villagers in their red, green and white was most attractive and seasonal, and again, the opening of Act 2 was very stylishly dressed, with beautiful gowns.
The two “ugly sisters” were physically very different, but their paired outfits connected them well and the use of strong colour made them stand out on the stage. I do have to comment on the Act 2 costumes for this pair – they were great, but perhaps in need of stronger elastic on the bloomers! (but congratulations to Morgan for managing a difficult situation extremely well). Cinderella’s patch dress was not the traditional rags, but appropriate as this wasn’t a Cinders portrayal where she was sweeping the fire etc. I did think her ball gown could have been a little more overdressed to set it above and apart from some of the other guests.
The Baron wore his costumes very comfortably, with a particularly nice period jacket in Act 1, whilst Dandini and the Prince looked elegant in their breeches and blouses with the very well adapted interchangeable jackets. The Baronesses grey vampire style dress with supporting make-up and hair was effective.
Having Bodgett and Leggett as a couple of builders enabled them to have great flexibility in their work outfits, and they really enhanced the characteristics of this cheeky pair as did the Hagan the Horse outfit, which had a particularly good head.
There was an impressive array of lighting, which was used to great effect, both on the stage area and the Fairy Godmother’s dais. The sound cues were well timed and inventive, although we needed a more distinctive wand/spell effect for FG. The microphones were well balanced, enabling us to hear all participants clearly in this big venue.
Music was all pre-recorded for the singing and ensemble numbers. The opening chorus movement was imaginative, with individuals all doing different moves at some points, and having to work with others. The Act 2 set chorus number were exceptionally good – the ball scene visual was good, and we especially liked the Fosse style movement. The energy in the final number was incredible, with excellent choreography and presentation. The movement in duets was also nicely choreographed and performed.
I liked the fact that opportunity was given to some of the younger members of the cast to participate specifically in the final number in Act 1, and there are already some youngsters showing good timing and movement.
PERFORMANCES (listed as per programme order):
This was a production which we liked very, very much and where the team work between characters was very evident, and the production values were generally high. We are aware that the age range within this group is significant, and the comments for individuals are
designed to try and help people reflect on their performance and offer some things to think about for the future.
Cinderella – Lucy Greed – Lucy has a very pretty singing voice which will stand her in good stead for the future. Perhaps think about some breathing exercises which will help in terms of building projection for the future. There were relatively few lines for Cinderella to establish her character in the first scenes, and so those that were there needed to be worked to full effect to enable us to warm to her and empathise with her position with her step-family. The duets and dance with Dandini were both lovely, and true to your programme note, the ball scene was great!
Buttons – Harry Yelland – Harry brought the character of Buttons to life with his cheeky smile. He confidently “worked” the audience right from the beginning of the performance, and demonstrated good comic timing. There were occasions when volume was a touch low, and the tail ends of lines disappeared, but this is easily rectified for the future.
Baron – Matthew Greed – Matthews performance grew in strength as the evening progressed, and he has excellent facial expression. In some of the early lines diction was poor as words were run together. However this was not obvious later on, and in the ghost scene the timing and build-up of suspense was extremely well handled.
Baroness – Pheobe Jowett – The confident swagger of the Baroness, set off by her vampire like appearance immediately created her character. Here was another very pleasing singing voice too. Dialogue was accurate and well phrased, but sometimes a bit behind the pace, with long pauses at the beginning of lines.
Gertrude – Morgan Sheldon – Often the foil for Grizelda’s jokes, Morgan was an inspired partner for Tom. This partnership was so natural and well-rehearsed. Morgan’s singing voice was very good, and he moved well in the dance routines. He dealt admirably with the costume malfunction on Saturday night, when many an adult would have completely lost the plot, and managed to ensure that it did not affect other performers. Dialogue was also good – a very enjoyable performance.
Grizelda – Tom Nicoll – It was difficult to remember that Tom is only 13 when we watched this performance. This had an adult maturity and confidence that was completely unexpected from a programme note that said it was his “first ever panto”. His direct engagement with the audience and the ability to handle audience response was excellent, and the running gags with ‘Dan’ were impeccably timed. .Again, another performer who made full use of the stage but showed real awareness of the others around him, and his partnership with Morgan was really strong. Excellent dance moves (particularly in Act 2 opening and the finale), with appropriate touches like the air guitar that just added to his character. Very well done indeed.
Prince Charming – Emily Mear – We very much liked Emily’s principal boy – she ‘stood tall’ was confident, and had just the right amount of ‘attitude’ to convey her social status. The scenes with Dandini worked particularly well in Act 1, and the relationship that developed with Cinderella was good – lovely duets and dance moves. She brought a real
sense of energy into the search for Cinderella in Act 2, and demonstrated the ability to hold a complex musical line in the opening number of Act 2.
Dandini – Amy Curtis –another assured performance which supported Prince Charming admirably. Dialogue was delivered with confidence and meaning, and placement on the stage was always good. Movement and vocals for the opening of Act 2 were excellent.
Bodgett – Mille Sheldrick
Leggett – Grace Upton
The pairing of these two young people was inspired – they worked so well together, were very well-rehearsed, and clearly loved what they were doing, which was fully appreciated by the audience! The timing was excellent, both in terms of physical movement and extracting all the comedy from the text. Facial expressions were good, as was the full use of the stage. I don’t think that there was any point in which the one upstaged the other, and pace was always maintained throughout their scenes. Well done both of you.
Fairy Godmother – Ellie Russell – Ellie demonstrated very good projection from the moment she stepped onto the dais, and confidently delivered her opening lines. These lines tell the story (see my earlier comment) and so need space and shaping to enable the audience to “hear”. The walk for the “old lady” piece in the wood was very good, as was the Act 1 reveal scene with Cinderella.
Chambers – Cheyenne Coleman – Cheyenne was clearly very comfortable with this role, and timed her entrances well, always positioning herself to show that she was a servant, and attentive to the dialogue going on.
Hagan the Horse – Becky Wright & Emily Jowett – this pair were delightful to watch as the horse, and gave him real character, both in the set movement and general body positioning.
Bows – Emily Upton – Emily worked with energy and commitment in all her chorus numbers, and her piece at the end of the show was charming.
The ensemble numbers were well choreographed, and in the opening of Act 1 we were delighted to see every member of the chorus doing their individual piece of action, but clearly relating to the whole. The Act 2 ensemble numbers were outstandingly good. General chorus entrances/exits (as villagers etc) were always well timed, and the youngsters involved worked hard to respond to the dialogue in an appropriate manner. We noted the particular contribution made by Ben Collins.
This pantomime was a joy to watch, and provided a very entertaining evening which was obviously well appreciated by the audience – young and old! We were impressed with the inclusive approach that had been taken – this was very much a company show, with lots for
everyone to do, and the team work between the on stage characters and off stage characters such as lighting, sound and costume was evident, which reflects well on the leadership provided by Alex as the director.
As a general note, (and really for the young performers as much as the Director), pantomime characters usually have to be created within very few lines. The audience is already primed from their knowledge of the story to like or dislike individuals. Therefore all lines have to be spoken carefully and with thought, not just recited as a learned exercise. They either help tell the story, or create the character, or as part of a joke (or – even better, doing more than one of those things at the same time!)
The use of space on the stage was well conceived, and having the raised platform in Act 2 made for a good visual experience, which with no stage rake, added visibility, and enabled the search scene to run concurrently with other action.
I’ve included in this section my comments on the Bake Off scene, as on the night that we came, the Bake-Off scene was weak with hesitant dialogue and poorly linked moves which meant that the humour of the scene was generally lost. These set pieces are incredibly difficult to do in an apparently effortless way. The routines need almost to be treated as a piece of choreographed movement with props, and masses of small group rehearsal, which then helps to make the scene capable of repetition despite any ‘blips’. However, it was the only weak spot in an otherwise well directed and genuinely funny pantomime.
Well done KYDS!
20th December 2015