Review – Beccles & Bungay Journal – Jan 1976
Home grown show tribute to teamwork
The appreciative audience which filled the hall of Loddon Secondary School last Thursday evening were described as very special people by local teacher Mr. John Harris, producer of the pantomime which they had just enjoyed on the first day of 1976. They formed the first night audience for Loddon’s first pantomime, Cinderella.
And what a tribute to teamwork this locally produced show turned out to be – especially if success is judged on the amount of fun which the cast shared with their supporters.
It was a fun filled show and a special success for Mr. Harris, who was probably the busiest person on stage or behind the scenes.
Having written the script, with the help of a colleague, Miss Brenda Alexander, produced the show, sold many of the tickets and paid the part of Baron Waste (Cinderella’s father).
After illness hit a member of the cast, Noel Neil, the producer also stepped into the part of Buttons.
But the spontaneous team spirit evident in this jolly “homespun” local pantomime rose to the occasion so well that Cinderella (Jill Carpenter) was able to side step Button’s romantic advances with the remark: “I cannot fall in love with you because you are beginning to resemble my father more and more every day!”
However, this Loddon pantomime, the realisation of a long-held ambition for John Harris, was by no means a one man show.
It involves the talents and hard work of more than 60 people of all ages in a show which evoked a lot of audience participation by means of a liberal supply of Norfolk humour and old favourite songs wittily woven into the story.
Much of the comedy came from Brenda Alexander, who portrayed one of the ugly sisters as a kind of Norfolk version of Ena Sharples, hairnet and all.
In the true tradition of pantomime – which has never seen the need of government approval for the idea of making jobs available to either men or women – Vallee Dewar made a competent female Dandini (the Prince’s valet), while Derek Loyd supplied the dubious glamour of the second ugly sister.
Derek, better known locally as an organist, produced a lot of visual hilarity by appearing in a series of garish gowns, including one made from newspapers.
But, in deference, perhaps to the Sex Discrimination Act, the dashing Prince Charming was authentically portrayed by John Graham.
There was a new experience for the vicar of Loddon, the Rev. Peter Green, who formed the front end of Bessie, the pantomime horse, and performed some well rehearsed foot work with the rear end, David Carpenter.
The shows songs owed much to the fine singing voices of Betty Best (a homeless homely Irish fairy godmother), and Jill Carpenter who sang some pleasing duets with Prince Charming.
But the chief musical features of the show we’re the excellent performance of the Loddon Youth Band, conducted by Ron Hinton, who also took the part of the town crier, and the contributions of Ted White, who showed a light and talented touch with the violin.
All this was strongly supported by the ever-reliable accompaniment of Beryl Carver, on the electronic organ, and Rosemary Harris, who took time off from playing the double bass to appear on stage as the ghost.
Particularly pleasing to the eye were the beautifully costumed young members of the Joan Gisborne School of Dancing, who performed the dance routines.
These contributions were all carefully knitted into a script which stuck closely to the Cinderella story but introduced many topical and local references and jokes.
And at the end of the evening the audience left the cast in no doubt they had enjoyed the experience of Loddon’s home grown panto.
Among those who contributed to the show success were the fanfare trumpeters Nicola Ellis and Debra Mortimer, and the Spanish dancer, Joan Gisborne.
The dancers – Rosemary Best, Fiona Blouet, Sally Blouet, Jane Carter, Christine Child, Gina Davis, Claire Downs, Susan Durrant, Jane Evans, Sally Green, Amanda Hill, Claire Johnston, Wendy Kittle, Michelle Larkin, Julie Leathers, Donna Lewis, Tina Littlewood, Chloe Maguire, Claire Maguire, Sally Nelson, Linda Orpet, Jane Thurston, Catherine Townsend, and Karen Walkin.
The Youth Band – Nigel Carpenter, Andrew Carver, Anthony Cawthorne, Mark Clitheroe, Andrew Crofton-Sleigh, Christopher Ellis, Nicola Ellis, Simon Linger, Deborah Mortimer, Janet Moulder, Susan Moulder, Philip Penn, Caroline Royal, Angela Stevens and Gary Thompson.
Stage manager, Jackie Boldra, assisted by Jane Blouet, and Christine Low; lighting, Roger Dove and Ian Leonard; prompter, Judy Best; choreography, Joan Gisborne; scenery, Joan Evans and Vic Pennel; costumes, Lynn Chapman, Rosemary Harris, Gwen Mortimer, Eileen Scarfe, Dinah Spurgeon, Margaret Turner; makeup, Michael Moulder; publicity, Myrtle Wright and John Harris; bookings, Shelagh Colley, John and Rosemary Harris and Vallee Dewar; programme artwork, Joan Archibald; front of house, Ray Gisborne, and usherettes, car park attendants and refreshments assistance, Loddon Youth band, Earl Catchpole and Loddon Secondary School boys, Brenda Gorham, Joyce Hammond and helpers.