Sidmouth panto offers hearty dose of pirate fun

Sidmouth SADS’s panto is a real treasure of humour and fun

PANTOMIME is a time for children to enjoy hissing and booing the baddies, cheering the hero and generally having fun.

There weren’t many children at Treasure Island the evening I saw it performed at Sidmouth’s Manor Pavilion Theatre by Sidmouth Amateur Dramatic Society, but the adults soon let their hair down to boo Long John Silver and cheer principal boy Jim Hawkins.

Toby Bradford and Tina Webster’s version of Treasure Island had an overworked fairy godmother – Jean Rees as Jim’s guardian – a talking parrot, a double act of dopey pirates, a saucy dame and a motley crew of pirates, chorus and delightful dancers.

Gillian Coley brought sanity to the Benbow Inn as Jim, son of the dotty dame Ma Hawkins, (Ashley Leeds) who mastered some speedy costume changes as well as some hilarious slapstick.

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Gillian is no newcomer to panto and showed she could not only act but has a fine singing voice too.

Partnered opposite her as Felicity, Sidmouth College students, Lauren French and Sarah Hill, shared the part of Squire Trelawny’s daughter, who only has eyes for Jim and joins him in an adventure to find buried treasure.

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Comedy duo Karen MacGarvie as Billy Brass and Stephen Knight as Nicky Knuckles kept the pace up and encouraged audience participation, while Gavin Haines’ portrayal of one-legged Silver was suitably sinister and snarling.

Polly the parrot (Elizabeth Hammond) had a magnificent costume and cage, where she sat, tapping her bell and making caustic comments – brilliant!

East Devon Dance School produced seven fine dancers (two sets doubling up for alternate performances) choreographed by Lucie Grace Welsman.

From the Hornpipe to hula, a spooky skeleton number to the final cabaret spectacular, the girls performed well-timed routines that rightfully received loud applause.

Director Joan Heard must have been particularly proud of the final song in the first act, which was timed to perfection.

Brilliant too was the set she and Brian Eves designed, made up of minimal props but to maximum effect.

Benbow Inn transformed into the pirate’s cave, the quayside, the ship Hispaniola, Treasure Island beach and the haunted caves with some simple rotating triangular flats, a large, well designed box and a screen to project drawings of each scene.

There were a few slow moments in the first half, but the pace picked up well and SADS again produced great panto entertainment for the young and young at heart.

*Call (01395) 514413 to see if tickets are left for tonight’s or tomorrow’s two performances.

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