Alnwick Theatre Club take to the stage with six pantomimes in one

In their 75th year, Alnwick Theatre Club bring us ‘Adventures in Pantoland’, a whirlwind of tales, all of which the club have staged since their first Pantomime, Cinderella, at Lindisfarne Drama Centre in 1976.
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I took my eldest daughter Elanor, who is six, to the first matinée performance to see what she would make of the club’s locally-renowned annual theatricals.

Her initial excitement became apparent (as did the collective audience) when stalwart Jimmy Dodds took to the stage. He of course brought his signature Dame to every scene, with comic timing and jokes aplenty.

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The show itself consisted of six different pantomimes; a real test for both the actors and audience. But the cast kept us watching, kept us entertained.

Cast members.Cast members.
Cast members.

Sound and lighting did a professional job, along with the stage crew, making scene changes seamless - something my late grandmother Penny would have been proud of!

Scenery was sparse but this was a useful tool, allowing the actors to take centre stage and the costumes certainly helped too.

Elanor commented on the costumes, saying how much she loved the Dame’s various characters and was able to guess who was who just by what they were wearing. The makeup too, particularly for the Baddies, was excellent, showcasing a whole variety of talents within the club.

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Character wise, it’s hard to pick favourites. The Baddie duo worked well together and even got a few laughs along the way! Julie Vint (Poison Ivy) may have once treaded the boards as Principal Girl but she can certainly cackle like a true bad-guy! Wizbad (Christopher Davies) made Elanor and I chuckle with his movements and audience interaction, particularly his turn as an ugly sister-future dame perhaps? Archie Braid brought a lot of energy to the role of ‘The Fool’; his relationship with the audience was strong as well as his presence on the stage.

A scene from Adventures in Pantoland.A scene from Adventures in Pantoland.
A scene from Adventures in Pantoland.

It was so good to not only see older, more familiar faces but younger ones too. Lola Cambell as the Genie was a particular favourite of Elanor’s; she projected her voice effortlessly and showed she could hold her own with the more experienced members. Fairy Honeysuckle, played by Alex Vint, was an audience favourite, appearing when needed to help the four unfortunate thespians find their way through Pantoland. He had a wonderful musicality to his voice and lit up the stage every time he entered.

The principal parts went to Honey Hughes and Aoife Matta. They were a confident duo and would certainly fit those same roles in future pantomimes, maybe just as the one character though!

Hats off to the fabulous all singing all dancing chorus, without whom the show would certainly be less colourful. No panto would be complete without its animals. Well done to Heather Howey - Tommy the Cat – and Christine Alcorn and Amy Snaith who played the ill-fated Buttermilk the cow.

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Once again, Alnwick Academy of Dance delighted us with their various guises – one minute performing for Poison Ivy, the next showing their skills as a Chinese Dragon.

Alnwick Theatre Club marked its 75th anniversary with six pantomimes in one.Alnwick Theatre Club marked its 75th anniversary with six pantomimes in one.
Alnwick Theatre Club marked its 75th anniversary with six pantomimes in one.

To end the show with the story that began the club’s foray into panto was truly fitting.

This show packed a serious but comical punch – it was long but brimming with talent, experience and good old-fashioned entertainment.

The panto continues from January 25-27.

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