The warm greeting by the front of house team was the start of a great night in the company of the Eyemouth and District Community Youth Theatre Group as they presented their annual Pantomime Hansel and Gretel.
The old Eyemouth High School hall was packed with an audience who were eagerly waiting to clap, boo, sing and cheer their way through the performance. Oh yes, they were!!! and they were not disappointed.
All pantomimes tell the story of good conquering evil and the two fairies, Nightshade on the side of Evil convincingly played by Max McNeil and the beautiful good fairy Bluebell, (Kayla Aitchison) who with perfect diction and controlled timing fought the battle in verse the whole way through the show. Spinning their magic over the characters of Muncheon Luncheon in Germany’s Black Forrest and creating an entertaining plot to the story.
The title roles of Hansel and Gretel (Alfie Patterson and Gemma Windram) provided the cutie element but they were not to be underestimated, these kids were well rehearsed and knew exactly what they were doing. Their Father Fitz played one of only two adults in the cast (Kenny Combes) and his overbearing wife Hildegarde (Rosie Mitchell) played a great duo of Naughty and Nice. Basil and Nutmeg (Sebastian Aitchison and Alisha Cooledge) made a great comedy pair always looking for another scam to make them rich. The love element to the story was provided by prince Johann and Heather (Monty McNeil and Paige Hawrylewicz) who fell in love at first sight and of course, lived happily ever after. Prince Johann was well looked after by his aid, Wofgang (Mason Skene). The interaction with the audience came from our Dame Peggy Pumpernickel (Campbell McNeil) and her stupid son Wally (Rose McTavish) they had the audience in the palm of their hands and had them shouting out with great enthusiasm. I’m sure not all they had to say was written in the script, but this just added to the fun of the evening. Other characters who added to the story were Klaus the ringmaster from the traveling circus (Sonny Crowe-Lough). He led the very colourful clown (Aaron Allan) and his friends along the dancers, Gymnasts and other circus performers with gusto. Helping the side of good in the story were the woodland creatures, in particular, Otto the owl (Leah Turkington) “Hoo” lead Hansel and Gretel to safety. Aiding Nightshade in her evil ways were Sheryl and Russell Crow (Abi O’Neil and Mack Blackie) along with the big bad wolf (Josh Campion) but of course good won out overall.
The whole show was held together by amazing dance routines and great chorus numbers led by the wonderful voice of Cody Watkinson. There were some touching moments as Hansel and Gretel where looked after in the woods by the woodland creatures and some great comic moments as the radio played havoc with the baking of a pie. This was a well-rehearsed performance with beautiful costumes, make up and scenery. The performers and backstage crew worked hard together to bring the community of Eyemouth a great night’s entertainment that could rival anything we see on the telly. The performers, producers and stage crew should be very proud of what they achieved. Most of these kids will not go on to seek a career on the west end stage but all will carry the confidence they have gained from this experience with them for the rest of their lives. The audience left the hall in great spirits, thoroughly entertained.
Well done to all involved.
Eyemouth & District Community Youth Theatre: Hansel and Gretel
Director: Pauline Greive; Musical Directors: Pauline Greive, Andrea Thacker;
Choreographers: Andrea Thacker, Carly Robertson
To take a company of over sixty youths through their paces and a achieve such a spectacular result is without doubt a massive reason to celebrate. This company has gone from strength to strength under the superb directorship of a very supportive and willing team of adults. They have put in hundreds of volunteer hours to find funding to upgrade their venue, perfectly utilising an old school stage, building a formidable wardrobe and coaching a huge number of
enthusiastic youngsters towards their dreams of taking to the stage. This year’s pantomime extravaganza had the right balance of comedy, pathos, music and dancing to keep the audience totally captivated. The opening feud of Bluebell (Kayla Aitchison) and Nightshade (Max McNeil), both superbly oversee the good and bad in pantomime by setting the
scene and playing a strong role throughout. The lively opening village scene of Munchen Luncheon was beautifully costumed and introduced us to three very strong characters, portrayed by Kenny Combe, Rosie Mitchell and Paige Hawrylewicz in the guise of Fritz, Hildegarde and Heather, the latter becoming Prince Johann’s love interest and a role
perfectly suited to the young Monty McNeil. They were both vocally attuned and totally comfortable in their partnership. Wally (Rose McTavish) gave a superb, larger than life performance, proving that her “gimme five!” never missed an audience reaction and she also proved to be a pretty cool mover. The title characters of Hansel and Gretel were not only cute but acted and sang to a standard way beyond their years – quite obviously senior stars of the future. The posh Basil (Sebastian Aitchison) and partner Nut-Meg (Alisha Coolidge) worked really well together featuring in the great Jungle Book favourite “I wanna be like you”. The woodland scene of nymphs and animals feature well in colour and movement as did the spectacular Act I finale, “Join The Circus” – an immense scene to choreograph which included clowns, acrobats, dancers, magicians, jugglers, cheerleaders and cowboys and Indians. Imagine that! Quite a spectacle! Peggy Pumpernickel (Campbell McNeil) held his own as the colourful dame, achieving hilarious interaction with the audience, especially the kids, giving a star performance throughout. The excited screams from the engaged youngsters
as the big bad wolf (Josh Campion) chased his victims around the stage, could have been heard at the other end of Eyemouth. Special commendation to Nightshade and the two accomplices, Russell and Sheryl Crow, (Mack Blackie and Abi O’Neill) for their rendition of the favourite number from Bugsy Malone, “We Could Have Been Anything We
Wanted to Be”. Clown (Aaron Allan) took centre stage with his solo spotlight, chasing the alluding white dot, to the enthralled audience – a lovely touch! Klaus (Sonny Cowe-Lough), Wolfgang (Mason Skene) and Otto (Leah Turkington) all gave strong performances with a special mention for the company’s main singer who led the spectacular and beautifully costumed finale to “From Now On” from The Greatest Showman. To tapping feet and audience participation the whole show concluded with rousing applause. Huge congratulations to everyone involved!