KYDS Youth Drama Society
“Robin Hood and the Witches of Sherwood”

Director – James Stocker
Musical Director – Leah Cave
Choreographer – Julie Davidge

Reviewed at Thurstable School, Tiptree, Essex on Friday 23 November 2018

This was my first visit to a KYDS production. I had heard a lot of good things about the society so was looking forward to reviewing their show.

Chester was well played by Beau Hens. He did a good job getting the audience on side and making sure they responded on cue whenever his character appeared. The prologue, well delivered, was followed by a good rousing opening number to get us all in to the mood for panto.

There were good performances from Daisy Loerns as Robin Hood and Eva Guerra as Maid Marion. Her solo “All by Myself” was nicely sung but it was such a shame the backing was so loud.

The three witches, Acne (Eden Hewes), Psoriasis (Ellisia Paper) and Pimple (Amy Swallow) all gave very good performances both acting and singing.

Tommy Metcalf was simply hilarious as Nurse Bedpan (Nursie). He tackled the role with maturity, throwing in some comic ad libbing to great effect. His asides to ‘Steve’ and ‘Tracy’, in the front row had us all in fits of laughter. Good timing and an ability to get the audience on side from the beginning is vital when you’re the pantomime dame and this young man really pulled it off. Very well done.

Millie Sheldrick and Emily Hatton were an excellent pairing as Nutsy and Dipsy. I particularly liked their rap.

Good performances also from Tom Hennessey as the Sheriff, Olly Smith as Prince John, Lola Emson as Molly Marcus Renshaw as Sergeant, Morgan Sheldon as Little John, Kieran Sheldon as Friar Tuck, Olivia Deighton as Will Scarlett, Charlie Warner as Alan-a-Dale and Steven Hyde as King Richard.

The principal characters were well supported by the ensemble. There was some good singing and dancing. Not everyone had learned their steps but they were all enjoying themselves on stage and I’m sure giving it their best shot.

The scenery, made in house was very good. Scene changes overall were well carried out, there were just a few that were rather long. Musical accompaniment was pre-recorded and for the most part, good. There were also some good sound effects.

Pantomimes as we know are often peppered with innuendos and this was the case here. However, we were watching a youth production and there were times when I felt concerned about the suitability of some aspects of the script for young performers.

The production was well costumed. It was just a pity that Maid Marion’s wedding dress was so heavily creased and the hem frayed.

That said, it is obvious that the creatives and the members of the production team are passionate about their involvement with the group and they had obviously worked very hard to get this production to the stage. So well done to all involved.

Decia Ranger
NODA East, District 7
on behalf of Christine Davidson, District 8

NORTH ESSEX THEATRE GUILD
SHOWCASE FESTIVAL 2018-19

Group: KYDS Youth Drama Society
Production: ROBIN HOOD AND THE WITCHES OF SHERWOOD 
Adjudication Date: 23rd November 2018
Venue: Thurstable School
Adjudicator: Dawn King accompanied by Liz Mullen

INTRODUCTION:

Having a particular interest in theatre for young people I very much looked forward to the opportunity to adjudicate this production. My last visit here had been to see a memorable Cinderella in 2015.

Tickets had been efficiently dealt with, and on arrival we were pleased to see the attractive photographic display. The programme was of particularly high quality, and the Q&A section for all cast members was innovative and informative. I noted during the evening the tremendous support given to the group by a wide range of volunteers, and that many of the cast had been involved in the scenic art aspects of the production.

We were amused by the Fee Fo Fi mobile announcement, which certainly had the right effect on a number of people around us.

SET:

This large school hall presents challenges for a performing group, but again the group has risen to the challenge and the sets showed a good degree of artistic imagination. The Sherwood Forest backdrop had just the right hint of spookiness, to foretell the appearance of the witches, whilst the Castle was well represented by keyhole windows and “brickwork”. Portable bushes, trees and castle gate posts added depth to the set, and the Use of front tabs for short scenes worked well and was not OVER used.

PROPS:

There was a variety of traditional hand-held props such as Robin H’s bow, Molly’s sword, Will’s staff, Robin A’s ‘guitar/mandolin’, which the cast handled well. The chorus also used their various props in the Hard Knock Life number to good effect. My colleague was taken with the gold wrapped mic stands used for the “Gold!” number and the bacon tree gag worked well.

COSTUMES:

Robin Hood and his band were appropriately dressed in the traditional outfits associated with their characters. Robin’s outfit, tights and boots worked particularly well, as did the toning “wench style” costume for Molly.

The witches had waist trim to match their stripy tights, and their sparkly dresses were set off by the make-up and hairstyles adopted. I was not convinced that the blue lipstick worked well under stage-light, as it tended to ‘disappear’.

I was particularly taken with the Sherriff’s black and silver tunic which Tom wore well, but he should have had britches or tights his modern trousers were quite wrong. Both Kings were suitably costumed and contrasted well. We also both liked the Dame’s ‘swan’ costume for the finale. The concept for Maid Marion’s costumes was also appropriate, but here a lack of attention to fit and finish for a main principal was particularly apparent given that her first costume was too short, and the Act 2 costume had no hem and was fraying badly.

The opening chorus number was bright and cheerful with the dominant red velour skirts and cream blouses. The grey overalls for Hard Knock Life fitted well with the script that these were prisoners, whilst the costumes for the walk down were traditionally medieval. Whilst I fully understand that chorus costumes need to be ‘recycled’ on economy grounds, some of the overalls were so long that they impeded the dance moves for individuals.

LIGHTING/SOUND:

The lighting was effective and well balanced with no significant areas of shadow. I liked the dimmer light for the Sherriff and the brightening when characters such as Marian and Dipsy and Nutsy came onto stage. Lighting for the witches was suitably spooky/gloomy. There were a number of occasions when the cast members failed to get into their light however, that is something that adults frequently fail on too.

Good intro music to settle the audience and create the right atmosphere, although this, like some of the other music used did cut off rather abruptly, when perhaps a more gradual fade would have been appropriate. The volume of music under Chester’s poetry was nicely pitched, and the songs were clearly mic’d and well balanced. There were sometimes slow pick ups so that beginnings of lines were lost. The SFX were all appropriate and well timed with the actions

CHOREOGRAPHY:

Great choreography which matched the age and abilities of the performers. The chorus numbers were excellently drilled, with the finale containing considerably more complex moves, which were performed with exuberance! The talents of individuals were recognised in many of the numbers, (with Teenage Dirtbag being an obvious, spirited, highlight and a demonstration of acrobatic skills), but I was struck by the way in which all members of the cast performed with commitment and really presented their number. Well done.

MUSIC:

A good choice of songs, which appealed to young and old alike and which had been well rehearsed. The diction was generally very good, with sharp entries at the beginnings of lines, (albeit not always mic’d), and use of dynamics. The timing of the solo entry by Friar Tuck was spot on for every entry, and caused significant amusement. Perhaps a consideration of the key used for some of the solos might be of benefit where they sit outside the natural range of the performer.

PERFORMANCES:

As a general comment, I was impressed with the way that the company worked together, making sure that those more experienced members supported the younger less experienced ones without compromising the overall performance. A big “well done” to you all.

Robin HoodDaisy wasn’t really given many chances to shine in this script, but she made a thoroughly decent Robin upstanding and with natural leadership, and she worked well with both her band of Merry Men and with Maid Marion. Good harmonies in the Everything has Changed duet, with a pleasing singing voice.

Maid MarionEva reflected a picture book interpretation of Maid Marion, and acted with sincerity throughout. Her singing voice is naturally sweet and pure, and the All By Myself solo behind prison bars rightly earned enthusiastic applause.

Nurse Bedpan The role of Dame is not easy for a young person to play but Tommy captured the flirtatious element very well, and managed some ad-libbing very well. He could perhaps have been encouraged to make other elements of the character stronger to create a more powerful character.

ChesterBeau Hens has lots of confidence and plenty of cheeky charm, and seemed very natural on stage. We felt that he just needed to slow down a fraction on occasions, or to find natural pauses in the dialogue, so that the audience can appreciate his comedy talents even more. There was lots of energy in his performance which kept the general pace of the production up.

SheriffTom made a very impressive-looking baddie, with dashing facial hair adding years! His strong physical stance made him menacing, and he did a very good and consistent ‘evil laugh’. Please remembers to stay in character all the time, not just when you are delivering lines. (Keep the evil grin, in this case, until you have turned away, rather than switching it off suddenly). Liz was particularly taken with Tom’s deadpan expression in his Justin Bieber cap throughout the big dance number, That Power.

Prince Johna wheedling Prince John, entertainingly created by Olly, whose stage experience was evident in his timing, placement and pace.

Molly This was a substantial part, and one which gave plenty of opportunity for good characterisation. Lola made the most of that opportunity, showing a sense of servility when

with Marion, popping up to offer support and fairness, and occasionally a bit of ferocity once integrated into the Merry Men. She demonstrated good comic timing, and was expressive in use of body language without ‘overdoing it’. Well done.

The SergeantMarcus Renshaw was wonderfully cross and bossy as The Sergeant, and managed to create a character with relatively little dialogue. This is an actor who has a good sense of the dialogue. He delivered his commands forcibly, without necessarily shouting, and was suitably awkward with the Dame.

Nutsy and Dipsy formed a strong pairing, and the two of them worked well together, creating quite different personas, which in themselves created comic moments. Millie’s more assertive Nutsy had excellent comic timing, which Emily contrasted well with her vague and slower character. Their Bond-style action pose was always entertaining and well timed.

The Witches of Sherwood (Eden, Elissi and Amy) were very different sisters, with the two older girls being laid back in their characters and showing significant disdain for Pimple, which set the relationships between them very early on. They were all then very consistent in their characterisation. Amy Swallow was outstandingly spirited as witch Pimple, and delivered her dialogue with good expression and interpretation. Her Teenage Dirt bag solo was full of energy and well executed.

King RichardSteven Hyde made his interpretation of King very different from King John and even the Sergeant, opting for a self-confident King with a big ego but a kind nature.

The four Merry Men all worked well together, particularly in the first act, and we understood who they were right from the first front of tabs scene, where they each handled their props with confidence. The Gold number was really well delivered vocally, and remained visually engaging even given that the use of static mikes made individual expression and movement harder. Having the smallest gang-member, Friar Tuck, shouting out the echo of “Gold!” added to the performance. In the second act, the dialogue and stage placement in the arrival at the castle seemed less secure, and dialogue was a little bit rushed.

The Horse, who was played by Grace Ward-Loerns and Emily Pettican, trotted on nicely for her many appearances, and listened well to the dialogue so that the responses were generally well timed.

Ensemble as previously noted, the ensemble was well rehearsed, both vocally and in terms of their movement, and yet were allowed points during the performance for individual expression. Where there were lines allocated to individuals these were usually clearly delivered.

DIRECTION:

This was a well selected pantomime, giving opportunity for a wide number of performers to participate across a wide age range.

There were things that I felt had not been developed as well as they might the dialogue in the cauldron scene seemed very perfunctory and the opportunities for more ‘business’ between the witches and use of effects/props was missed. This was also the case with the scene where the Bar-B-Que trolley is used.

We also both felt that generally the scenes needed to end more definitively, and for the next one to pick up promptly. This aspect of the production was slightly clunky and could have been smoother and slicker. Whilst the singing and dancing had been well rehearsed, I wondered whether there had been insufficient time for the principals during the rehearsal period, as some of the key comedy lines were lost, and also the blocking, when there were numbers of people on stage, sometimes resulted in the formation of straight lines and awkward moves.

The evening was very enjoyable, and thank you for enabling us to see this lovely group again.

Dawn King

27th November, 2018.