After years of being back-stage at the Crosthwaite pantomimes, it was a real treat to be part of the audience on Saturday, 26th January to enjoy the performance of 'Dracula and the approximately seven Dwarfs'.
The curtains opened to reveal a tall, handsome character in a top-hat and tails, claiming to be Fred Wordsworth, William's brother. His task was to deliver short poems and limericks throughout the panto and, although he bore a striking resemblance to Michael Woodcock, the cheeky nature of some of the verse suggested that we must be mistaken. We were supposed to boo and hiss him off stage but the ditties were such fun that we found ourselves encouraging him.
Rebecca Denney and Kate Done opened the action as Janet and John; the two fun-loving youngsters gave a sterling performance, bouncing around the stage. They were joined by Ma and Pa Wigglesworth (Judy Goodland and Steve Rowlinson). Pa was obsessed with his Black Pudding mine and the quality of the puddings. Seeking for something to occupy the youngsters, Fairy Nuff (Helen Todd) was summoned and set them the task of rescuing sad Dennis (Mary Rowlinson) from Dracula's castle. As a vegetarian (cue for dramatic music), the unfortunate Dennis was a serious disappointment to his uncle Dracula.
We found Dracula (Roger Smith) in a state of distress, desperate for blood, his brilliant, fiery red eyes making him look like Old Nick, the devil himself. His powerful and loving vampire daughter, Evil-Lynne (Susannah Bleakley), resplendent in a silver Purdy-type wig, did her best to find some juicy necks to drain of blood and, assisted by their doughty servant Boris, (the immaculately dressed Josh Barton) managed to satisfy his craving with black puddings.
The approximately seven dwarfs were manufacturing black puddings in Pa Wigglesworth's mine and, despite the protection of the foreman (Calum Smith), the vampire bats (Nicola Smith and Leila Gornall) were stealing black puddings to satisfy Dracula's yearnings (opening bat/hanging around). Two of the dwarfs (Eleanor Woodcock and Lily Cross) sang 'Tomorrow' from the film Annie.
Fairy Nuff taught Dennis some powerful magic to enable him to transform Dracula and Evil-Lynne into nice people and, in a 'happy ever after' ending, Dennis claimed the love of Janet whilst Evil-Lynne pursued John although that might have given a new meaning to a 'love bite'.
It was noticeable that the acting from all the cast was superb and a real credit to the Director, Tom Smith. The sound, lighting and technical team, Jim Bownass, Manuel Zobole and Henck Muller did a brilliant job keeping on top of fourteen microphones and endless noise and lighting changes whist the stage team Matthew Dobson and Colin Edwards maintained order with the props,scenery and curtains. A special mention for Paula Cross who painted the scenery and for make-up artist, Laura Parker who painted the cast.
But the ultimate accolade must go to Roger Smith and Marilyn Shuttleworth for a wonderfully crazy plot and script; it was great fun. Well done!
The Crosthwaite Panto Group demonstrated that it has a life of its own. Long may it continue.
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Boris (Josh Barton)
Dennis (Mary Rowlinson)
Dracula (Roger Smith)
Dracula, John & the foreman
Evil-Lynne & Dracula
Evil-Lynne (Susannah Bleakley)
Fairy Nuff (Helen Todd)
Fred Wordsworth (Michael Woodcock)
Full cast, including the 6 dwarves
Janet (Rebecca Denny)
John (Kate Done)
John, Dennis & Janet
Ma Wigglesworth (Judy Goodland)
Pa W, John & Evil-Lynne
Pa Wigglesworth (Steve Rowlinson)
The Foreman (Calum Smith)
The bats (Nicola Smith & Leala Gornall)