Director Jon Beales assisted by Alexandra Berriman
Choregraphy Biddy Atkinson and Tilly Kelly
Performed at the Thurstable School

3rd December 2011

Another year and we are back into the Panto season.It was good to see KYDS staging a less performed pantomime “Treasure Island”.
A good choice for any company, with lots of characters, and good chorus work.
There were far too many named characters to mention each and every one of them but the principal characters I must mention and did very well included
Dan Carr as Jim Hawkins played with a pleasant manner and singing voice.

Brad Cole as Ma Hawkins played so well and really took this comedy part to the maxim. I really enjoyed Brad’s enthusiasm and drive.
The Fairy Godmother played by Sophie Stocker complete with “fairy mobile”which was a comic twist involved the audience well and looked very attractive in a typical FG dress.
I also must mention Andrew Stocker as Nicky Knuckles who delivered clear spoken lines and was really involved with his part.
Once again Rachel Shortland came up with the goods as Squire Trelawney with great style and panache. The music which was taped for the songs fitted well and seemed well chosen.
I see from looking back at last year’s review I did mention more volume with the singing would add to the show and would emphasize this again this year.
Some good voices are there I am sure but somehow there seems to be a reluctance to sing out.
It comes across that all the young people on stage are very enthusiastic and do very well overall, so please try to give the audience the pleasure of your voices rather more.
The staging was good and also exits and entrances well used.
In a Pantomime all the cast need to get involved 100% in the story line and many on stage did so well. Support is vital from every person on stage whether a principal or a smaller part you are all being seen by the audience who do not miss much when it comes to what is happening on stage.
Many of the cast double up on parts which made it fun.
It is a very big hall to perform to and it was good to see a large audience supporting the show.
I know how much hard work goes into rehearsals and well done to Jon and Alex for keeping the group together and for the hours of preparation before the show goes on. Also to the unsung people Costumes Back Stage Crew Lighting Sound Set Construction and the people who help out with the children and cast during rehearsals and show run, Without you the show would not go on. So a pat on the back to you all.
See you all at the next production.

North Essex Theatre
Guild Showcase Festival 2011 – 2012

Group: KYDS Youth Drama Society
Venue: Thurstable School
Date of Adjudication: 26th. November 2011
Production: Treasure Island
Director: Jon Beales and Alexandra Berriman


This was an occasion of two firsts for me, my first visit to this group and venue, and more importantly, the first time I had seen a ‘pantomime’ version of Treasure Island. The venue at Thurstable School is a typical school hall design with a very wide stage but when you are using such a space there are often restrictions as to what scenery you can use. I was interested to see how the group would tackle the show in this venue.

Front of house/publicity Ann Morton and a team of volunteers.

Some friendly faces gave me a warm welcome. There was an eager crowd waiting for the afternoon performance which was well attended. Full marks for the publicity campaign which provided a young and enthusiastic audience along with supporting family members. The programme is also worthy of a mention as apart form the expected information there were lots of pirate related games and puzzles which kept the audience engrossed in the build up to the start of the performance. A very effective programme design with pirate motifs, an idea which was reflected in the appearance of the front of house team, their colourful outfits all helped the atmosphere that people were about to see something special.

Technical Manager Ross Goodbrand

This production required a good deal of co-ordination especially the movement of portable scenery to change the setting, this all seemed to occur effortlessly with good support from the lighting and sound team.

Head of sound/sound assistant James Clark, David Morton

Effects here were managed accurately adding to the comedy especially during the ‘wobbling dishes’ routine. The music was a little muted while the audience were coming in but there was dramatic and attention- grabbing use of film music to draw us into the action. The use of music to help cover scene changes was good.

Lighting Assistant Jon Casey

This was unobtrusive yet effectively handled. Clear and bright it allowed the audience clear views of the performers at all time. Given the venue with its deep stage and the distance of the audience from the stage this was a real achievement. Great to see the glitter ball!

Stage Crew Jordan Murphy, Kev Morton, Jon Beales

It was clear from the smooth scene changes that rehearsals had been thorough. Well done on the good teamwork.

Backstage assistants Aimee Smith, Hannah Beard, Karen Beard, Marcus Churchill.

An essential part of any team, your support for the production was clear and with so many characters needing assistance with costume changes etc. a very necessary presence.

Prop Construction Mike Russell, Kev Morton, Ann Morton, Andrew Beales, Jon Beales.

This was impressive. The demands of the script to support the action with visual clues for the audience were considerable. The movable pieces of scenery looked good, simple but convincing they were skilfully deployed. I really liked the cut-out look. The simplicity of the designs allowed maximum use of the space. Particularly impressive were Ma Hawkins’s Suitcase (plus contents), the island scenery and the baggage for loading the ship.


This seemed to be a well co-ordinated effort of bought, made, borrowed and cast members providing their own. The parrot costume was brilliant one of the best animal costumes I’ve ever seen. The Dame’s wardrobe was delightfully varied with some nicely clashing colours, and small details like the Fairy Godmother’s glittery eyes all enhanced the production. Many of the costumes were simple suggestions of the character but worked well. With so many performers to cater for this was a well planned operation.


Jim Hawkins Dan Carr

This is a tricky characterisation as Jim doesn’t have the chirpy, cheeky presence of a ‘Buttons’-type character, nor was it the traditional thigh-slapping pantomime principal boy. Dan caught the gentleness of Jim’s character well but there was the potential for a sharper definition of the troubled relationship between Jim and the Dame. Quicker exchanges and more animated interaction between the two would have been helpful. Dan did do this in the ‘Davy Jones Locker scene’ but I would like to have seen that all the way through. In scenes with Felicity Dan seemed more at ease and sang well.

Ma Hawkins Brad Cole

The role of Dame always needs a big personality and it is a key role in any pantomime. Brad bravely tackled this, a good strong voice and confident first appearance forged a positive bond with the audience. More work was needed on the use of body language and finding the physicality of the role. There was a lot of ‘hands on hips’ posture which may have been partly due to nerves but the Dame is such an animated role (which doesn’t necessarily mean rushing about all the time) but being very definite in gesture so you can hold the audience’s attention. Brad managed the many costume changes well, the pink wig was great, I didn’t like the Madonna wig very much I thought the pink one really caught the character. Other costume details such as the crab on the bottom after the shipwreck were fun and helped. The scenes with Squire Trelawney worked particularly well.

Squire Trelawney Rachel Shortland

This for me was the outstanding performance in the show. From her very first entrance Rachel was fully in the role both physically and vocally. The ‘wobbling tummy’ effect was used very expressively. Strong and confident in her delivery her performance lifted the performances of those around her. The scenes with the Dame were suitably flirty and demonstrated good use of gesture. I felt Rachel had good awareness of her fellow performers and was able to react or respond without hesitation. Use her performance to coach others as timing is crucial to keep the pace going. Delightful and engaging,

Felicity Trelawney Charlotte Hood

Charlotte was the epitome of ‘the girl next door’ with her fresh-faced appearance and costume which was just right, the spotty skirt and puff- sleeved blouse gave her a look of sweet innocence wholly appropriate to her character. She was convincing and sincere in her performance.

Martha Bethany Mayne

This was a great little cameo role and Bethany really played it as the girl with a heart of gold, her use of the term ‘babes’ was well timed and effective.

Captain Corker’un Phoebe Jowell

Phoebe started this a little hesitantly but as the show went on she really grew into the role. In the second half her performance was particularly strong and energetic. She also managed a good voice for the captain suitably naval and commanding. The transformation scene worked well and gave her a chance to give a contrasting performance and a very funny ‘striptease’.

Long John Silver Matthew Russell

Mathew deserves great credit for coping so well with the physical demands of this role. His use of gesture and body language was good. Vocally he was working hard to sustain power and volume but at times it sounded strained work on voice projection to allow this without the strain. Initially the ends of lines were ‘swallowed’ a slightly slower delivery would have helped and allowed more variety of tone. Matthew clearly has potential.

Polly the Parrot Jenny Hayward

The costume looked fabulous, but I was disappointed that I could not hear Jenny clearly and consequently feel sure that I missed some great lines. Her deck chair indifference was clearly conveyed and she managed her movements well given the size of the costume. I would like to have seen her used more I thought there was great potential to develop a stronger relationship between the parrot and Long John Silver.

Billy Brass Peter Greenwood

As one half of this comedy duo Peter gave a strong performance, very clear delivery and a good sense of timing. A nice sense of superiority and use of his height compared to Knuckles was very funny.

Nicky Knuckles Andrew Stocker

The other half of the duo equally strong on delivery and comic timing was particularly good during the physical comedy pieces. His portrayal of the underdog of the partnership was good.

Comments on both of the above Brass & Knuckles.

Peter and Andrew worked well together, nicely differentiated by height, there was a real empathy between them on stage. The ‘wobbling dishes’ routine was well handled and their engagement of the audience was good. I liked the way they were placed on the rostra at the front of the stage to bring a sense of them being in the confidence of the audience. They did warm the audience up well and got them responding quickly. A good pairing.

Fairy Godmother Sophie Stocker

A lovely animated performance from Sophie, she brought sparkle to the stage. The mobile phone worked well as a motif and the freezing and unfreezing of the others with a gesture of her wand was effective. At times lines were a bit gabbled so a slightly slower delivery may have allowed for clearer delivery. This improved as the show went on. The characterisation worked well as a narrative device,

Jolly Roger, Blind Pugh, Black Dog Tilly Kelly, Lucy Greed, Becca Shortland
Here the girls were clearly differentiated by costumes and manner giving us very individual performances, 
not easy in minor roles like these. Good use of reactions by all.

Robinson Crusoe Lee Cole
This was a little gem of a role and Lee played it very successfully. Looking the part, his clear delivery 
allowed him to have fun with this role with good intonation and expression. One to watch I think.

Friday, Thursday, Wednesday, Tuesday, Monday Ella Vanson, Beccy Hayward, Amy Willis, Jodie Cole, Alex Parry

The girls here made a good ‘foil’ to Lee’s Bond –like character, working well together and suitably adoring of him.

The Beard Seller Tilly Kelly

This was a fun role and Tilly’s reactions to the other characters were good and added to the comedy of the text. It did need a bit more energy as a scene but her delivery of lines was clear.

Robin Ray Banks

A brief appearance by Ray. looking suitably furtive added to the fun.

Cabin Boy Becca Shortland

Again a very brief appearance but effectively done.

Pirates/Sailors/Inn customers Cheyenne Coleman, Emily Jowett, Eleanor Russell, Bradley Thomson, Amy Turnnidge, Rebecca Wright.

The chorus members moved in and out of the action appropriately looking the part in a variety of costumes. Vocally they were not strong especially in the songs, especially in ‘Who do you Think you are’ their voices did not carry across to the audience.
The girl pirates worked well and overall they were a supportive presence.

Choreography Biddy Atkinson and Tilly Kelly

Some really nice routines worked out here and very effective dancing from the Dame and Squire Trelawney. I thought the ‘Happy Days,’ ‘Captain Pugwash’ and ‘Could it be Magic’ routines were particularly effective, performers seemed comfortable and confident with their moves, well done.

Director Jon Beales
Assisted by Alexandra Berriman
Supported by 
Ray ‘Woo’ Banks

A really interesting choice of script which allowed many young actors to participate in the performance. It is so important to provide these opportunities and there was a clear sense of enjoyment from everyone involved. I don’t know how many of them have performed before but there was certainly an air of confidence when they were on stage.

Your venue also presented significant challenges. It is a big space to fill and relying on the barest of scenery to give a sense of place could have proved tricky. but this was thoughtfully done and successfully achieved, The thing that stood out as being worthy of further work was pace, there was a hesitancy when a scene change occurred as to when the actors should start, only a few seconds each time but it did interrupt the flow. I would also like to have seem more being made of Polly’s role – here was the potential to have a real ‘Victor Meldrew’ of the bird world!

You have some performers who show an understanding of the physicality of their characters notably Squire Trelawney, Fairy Godmother, Billy Brass and Nicky Knuckles. In rehearsals or workshop sessions with the group you could use some exercises to help with this, or, if you have videoed performances use playback to work on this aspect of performance.

Overall I thought the staging worked well, I liked the use of the rostra at the front of the stage and the use of the chase up through the audience. All the traditional set pieces were there and the audience certainly enjoyed their afternoon.

I certainly came away with the impression that the group is well supported in all kinds of ways and a strong sense of people working together to make a performance happen.

Thank you for your hospitality and the chance to see this production.