SUCH is the reputation of the Burley Players’ annual pantomime that an amber warning of snow and ice did not keep the sell-out audience away.
A friendly family affair, King Humpty Dumpty drew in the crowds for this splendid show, full of laughs, songs and dance.
The action begins in the domain of the bad fairy, and Sue Trotter was the imperious, wicked Jinxit ominously dressed in black, with her naughty and rude accomplice Humpty Dumpty played enthusiastically by Sharon Street.
Luckily Wanda Williams was on hand as the Good Fairy, dressed all in white and silver ready to cast spells to counteract all Jinxit’s evil spells. In an attempt to curtail Humpty Dumpty’s bad deeds, she encloses him into an egg which can only be broken by humans. However Jinxit throws a spanner in the works by dispatching the egg to Eggton-on-Sea.
The action then switches to this seaside town and Tim Gaskell was wonderfully over the top as Patsy Putumup, the boarding house landlady. Her colourful costumes and hairstyles became more and more outrageous as the show continued, and she wore the most amazing shiny tinselled eyelashes.
Vicky Freer was the handsome and gallant Prince Valiant, in charge of the king’s men, a number of whom were confidently played by members of the junior chorus.
Richard Pratt and Simon Newns were great fun as Private Spit and Private Polish, a pair of rather incompetent and not very courageous soldiers who keep tripping over each other in their attempts to run away from any danger. It is they, of course, who break the egg, releasing Humpty Dumpty who quickly unleashes chaos throughout the kingdom.
Deborah Nightingale and Sandy Simpson were very skilful as the front and rear parts of Horace the endearing horse, who wore tap shoes and pranced around the stage.
Bernie Guy was the amiable King, quite happy to live a quiet life, but Veronica Johnstone was his haughty harridan Queen who constantly plagued him to “do something”, especially after Jinxit had cast a spell making Humpty Dumpty the king and Patsy the Queen Mother and turning the erstwhile rulers into lowly servants.
Katy Perriman was their pretty daughter, Princess Perriman, who to her parents’ horror announces that she is in love with Prince Valiant. This leads to his banishment from the kingdom.
The seven-strong junior chorus aged five to 10 were amazingly confident, versatile and hard-working, which was remarkable bearing in mind that for the five youngest this was their first time on the stage.
All’s well that ends well; wicked Jinxit is imprisoned in the egg, Spit and Polish are forbidden to go anywhere near the egg, Humpty Dumpty promises to mend his ways and is adopted by Patsy, order is returned to the kingdom, the two young lovers go off together and everyone lives happily ever after.
The backstage crew produced beautiful costumes and very realistic backdrops. Debbie Clay was the musical director and the choice of songs and music, played by Sonia Foulds on piano and Graeme Thew on percussion, was just right for the occasion.
This thoroughly enjoyable village pantomime was brilliantly directed by Sandy Simpson and Mary Turner, and produced by Deborah Nightingale, leaving the audience wreathed in smiles, happy to go out and brave the ice and snow.