Thur 4th December - Sat 6th December & Wed 10th December - Sat 13th December 2014
Directed by Roger Wallsgrove
This play was staged at The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.
To hear an exciting trailer by Billio and Blunt, click on this link!
|Billio (Narrator 1)||Mark Wakeman|
|Blunt (Narrator 2)||Dan Finch|
|Queen Dewdrop||Leigh Cunningham|
|King Ming||Jeff Bone|
|Queen Charlene||Zoe Chapman|
|Snowdrop (fairy 1)||Robin Hall|
|Buttercup (fairy 2)||Jo Langfield|
|Rosebud (fairy 3)||Claire Lyne|
|Princess Aurora||Jessi Wilson|
|Dennis (Stable Boy)||Beth Evans|
|Prince Cracking||Sophie Hoolihan|
|Herbert (Squire)||Tasmin Halford|
|Dean (gnome 1)||Chris Vanstone|
|Kevin (gnome 2)||Gina Farmer|
|Colin (gnome 3)||Alan Welton|
|Malcolm (Fairy King)||Paul Millington|
|Grand Duchess Betty||Ruth Prior|
|Algernon (horse 1), Peasant, Simon Trowel||Pete Woodward|
|Reginald (horse 2)||Kate van Gend|
|Toby (robber 1),Proclaimer 1||Terry Smyth|
|Rupert (robber 2), Proclaimer 2, Prince Phwoar||Stuart Reilly|
|Traders, soldiers, peasants etc||Sandra Constable, Melissa Hackney, members of the cast|
|Stage Manager||Marion Ward|
|Assistant Stage Managers||Verity Butler, Melissa Hackney|
|Lighting Design||Phil Hanley|
|Lighting Operation||Alan Ward|
|Sound Design||Jacquie Penrose|
|Sound Operation||Jacquie Penrose|
|Costumes||Sue Dawes, Di Wallsgrove, Robin Hall, Lorraine Stone, Julie Wood|
|Set Design||David Penrose|
|Set Construction||Bench members|
|Programme Editor||Derek Callam|
|Front of House||Sally Hartley|
Following the great success of the previous Bench pantos, Cinderella (2010) and Aladdin (2012), it was clear that another "Brothers Grimmer" panto was due this year. But wait! No director, and an incomplete script.... which is where I foolishly stepped in. "I'll direct!" I said. "Come on Mark, finish your Sleeping Beauty script!"
Not knowing what they were letting themselves in for, the company agreed with me (oh yes they did!), and Mark set to work with his usual flair and comic genius. Several drafts later, losing some characters (the trolls) and gaining others (Grand Duchess Betty), we had a working script, and I assembled a fantastic team of helpers.
What you will see on stage today is the result of some amazingly hard work by a great many people, not least the cast. We have had lots of fun along the way, and I have learned a lot (mostly not to volunteer for things....)
Back By Popular Demand!
So here is the third of my Brothers Grimmer pantos. Yes, I know I said I would never write another one but I was made a liar by a dream so here we go again!
The plaudits and awards (yes, we won an award for 'Aladdin', can you believe it???) plus the fact that everybody involved had such a great time with the last two convinced everyone to try again for a third time. So 'Sleeping Beauty' is the last part in my trilogy (who would ever have thought I would write a trilogy ...I can't even spell trilogy the editor had to correct me!) However, this time I will say 'Never say never' rather than 'Never ever' as I think this will be the last one.
As usual you don't need to have seen either of the other two to enjoy this panto, although there are returning characters and jokes from the previous two by popular demand. I've also tried to remain as true to the original version of the story as possible, well unless I could think of a way of doing it that had more jokes in it! I've relaxed the no singing/dancing rules this time though, well it's the last one so why not?
Someone described 'Aladdin' as like a panto done by Monty Python which made me extremely proud as they were a big influence on me, but all my other comedic inspirations are easy to spot and all had an effect on the writing. From Hancock to Eric and Ernie, Carry On to Up Pompeii, Will Hay to many more! See if you can spot them all!
Lastly I would like to thank the cast and crew for their tireless enthusiasm and hard work for bringing this script to the stage. All the hours I spent locked away in the dark banging out different versions of the scripts (we got up to the 9th draft with this one!) is nothing compared to the sheer hours that every other member of the group has spent in trying to make the silly ideas from my head come to life. It's been a lot of hard work but hopefully you the audience will reap the benefits and have an amazing time!!!
Thank you again for choosing to support a local theatre company. Without your patronage we wouldn't be able to function and bring you the range of theatre that we try to do throughout the year.
So laugh, boo, heckle and jeer and enjoy our panto at the end of the year!!!!
Mark Wakeman (Author and Billio)
Bench Theatre has a costume cupboard full of beautiful if rather vintage items, most in smaller sizes from times when veteran Bench members were younger with more slender waists. Still, there are gems to be found therein. (Someone recently remarked to me that amateur actors have to fit into the costumes available but this can often be impossible not to say quite uncomfortable).
I remember the bathing costume I made for Widow Twanky with fondness for its flamingo print and somewhat masculine dimensions. Unlike that one, some of these costumes have been worn time and time again. King Ming's robe was originally made for our production of "Brief Lives" March 2011. Did you recognise it? No! - well you missed a treat. The red dress the Queen wears is a stalwart member of the Bench wardrobe and has been worn innumerable times.
However, the giant squid costume has only been worn for one previous production. This panto is one of a trio written by Mark: Cinderella, Aladdin and Sleeping Beauty, so some unusual characters or creatures have been revived and I love this continuity between the plays. "A giant squid!" we said, when the whirlwind that was the Aladdin production was over, "When are we ever going to need him again?" We don’t have much storage space and it seemed that he was doomed for the recycling bin. Luckily I live in a large house and have plenty of room for enormous carrier bags of giant squid costume to be left in the corner of a chaotic costume room at the top of the house to be "sorted out later" and here we are, the very same squid reappearing in all its glory.
The usual plethora of flower fairies, Proclaimers, peasants, Ninjas(?), Cheryl Cole (who is she?!), Princes Dashing, Dancer and Prancer etc. Oh no! It's nearly Christmas! Join the giant squid et al in this phantasmagorical story of medieval forest folk. But what are they all going to wear and by the way what did happen to those thigh high boots bought at Primark and worn by royalty in Cinderella?
I would like to thank all my costume team for rallying round once again… but do excuse me – I must go and make two Ninja costumes before breakfast!
Sue Dawes (Costume Designer)
One of the perils of amateur performance is, of course, that the quality of individual performers can run the gamut of quality from A to Z-minus and that's certainly true, here. Some performances are definitely weaker than others - but there are some stonkers.
Both Wakeman and Dan Finch (as co-narrator Blunt) relish the audience interaction - of which there is exactly the right amount - and manage it well. Robin Hall, Clare Lyne and (particularly) Jo Langfield make a feisty trio of good fairies; Ruth Prior is a joy as Grand Duchess Betty and Mary Berry (yes - you read that correctly); Leigh Cunningham makes a great Cheryl Fernandez-Versini (you read that correctly, too) and Jessi Wilson is a joy as Aurora.
But Sarah Parnell, as the appropriately named Magnifica, is brilliant. Here is an actor who has dealt with a caricature as a character part. Yes - it's hugely over-the-top and unreal (she's a bad fairy, for heaven's sake!) but it's genuine and played for the truth of the situation.
Go have a laugh.
James George, The News, December 2014
Bench Theatre's own multi-award winning writer Mark Wakeman has completed his Brothers Grimmer trilogy by adding "Sleeping Beauty" to his previous successes "Cinderella" and "Aladdin". His tireless enthusiasm and fertile imagination ensures this classic tale will appeal to all ages from 5-95. This timeless traditional fairytale features not only a beautiful princess, dashing prince, malevolent Magnifica, fairies and love-struck servants but is also right up to date with a nod to popular contemporary television shows including "Strictly Come Dancing" and "The X Factor".
The backstage crew have contributed enormously to this colourful production with striking paintings depicting peacocks and castles plus an impressive array of gaudy cup cakes! Roger Wallsgrove directs this large enthusiastic cast with many fine strong performances. Sarah Parnell is a memorable wicked fairy playing the enchantress Magnifica. Her distinctive make-up and long green talons deliciously adding to her fiendish character. Mark Wakeman (Billio) as always can be depended upon to raise the bar and comically ad lib where required. Robin Hall (Snowdrop) and Jo Langfield (Buttercup) were lively and spirited fairies with Paul Millington playing Malcolm the Fairy King attired in an unbelievably impressive outfit - silver from head to toe! Jessi Wilson excelled as the sleeping beauty Princess Aurora culminating in her priceless sleep dance hilariously resulting in a Strictly score of 7!
A thoroughly entertaining show well put together and quite clearly a great deal of fun. Highly recommended to get the festive spirit underway.
Jill Lawrie, remotegoat, 13th December 2014