Mike Wilson also directed Aladdin in 2017.
Cinderella was the pantomime for February 2016 directed by the new team of Mike and Leah Wilson. The cast included several newcomers to the East Harlsey stage from surrounding villages, and a junior chorus of 15 youngsters! Quite a handful.
East Harlsey Players never fail to deliver, said Sue O'Grady in October 2015 ..................
The talented players from this small village received the stamp of approval for their performance of the Victorian farce ‘Penny Black’ written by Rob Wellington (with acknowledgements to Lazy Bee Scripts). The play, with its quite complex and highly outrageous plot, delighted the audiences in East Harlsey Village Hall.
As the story unfolds we are shown how Holmes Hardy, the postman (Julian Whaley), becomes the famous detective Sherlock Holmes. His cloned brother, Watson, a sex therapist (Lewis Wilde), becomes his partner whilst his older brother, the evil Morrie (Richard Anderson), becomes his arch enemy. The secret of the cloning process is on the back of a Penny Black stamp and the boys’ mother, Dottie Hardy (Judith Allan), tries to find out what the secret her husband, Dr Fullminster Hardy (Richard Martin) has kept from her. Dr Michelle Jones (Shirley Smith) is also a key player in the story. Needless to say all is revealed at the end!
A particularly strong performance was delivered by Judith Allan who had the audience in stitches with her Scottish accent and was totally believable as the forceful and scheming matriarch. Richard Martin, too, was funny as the insane doctor who had a liking for celery but who, thereafter, became a changed man. Both these roles were played with panache. Julian Whaley spoke clearly and confidently as Holmes and Richard Anderson gave his usual good performance clad in cloak and moustache.
Shirley Smith managed her difficult role with confidence as did Lewis Wilde as the softly spoken Watson. The cameo role of Maria the maid, who was prone to a spot of swearing, was aptly played by Marion Archer as were the other parts by Ellie Cooper and Leah Wilson.
Sarah Martin, the Director, should be congratulated on her presentation of this play as the twists and turns in the first half meant the audience had to concentrate to keep up with the unfolding plot. The second half was the most fun with its need for expert timing. As with all farces this is such an important aspect and this cast was spot on, moving confidently on a small stage.
So, well done, East Harlsey Players, for another entertaining evening – an evening full of laughter and fun.
In February 2015, the pantomime was Ali baba and the Forty Thieves.
In October 2014, the East Harlsey Players presented a new play written by our local author, David Allan. A few photos can be found on the next page, and Kate Alderson writes:
"The talented East Harlsey Players presented the first ever performance of Happy Families, a comedy written and directed by local resident, David Allan, at East Harlsey Village Hall last week. This is a neatly crafted play, with confident and well-realised performances by all the actors who had good support from the management and backstage teams.
Two families, the Anstruthers, comfortably well off and conventional, and the bohemian Blanchards, are brought together by the engagement of Sally Anstruther (Ellie Cooper) and Marcus Blanchard (Oliver Walters). We first meet the put-upon “total banker” Charles Anstruther (Richard Martin), and his formidably well-organized wife, Mary (Judith Allan) at their home as they await the arrival of the Blanchards. Justin Blanchard (Richard Anderson) is a failed actor and his wife, Lydia (Leah Wilson), an ex-model with a past, is bored and disillusioned with her life. Two uninvited guests who soon make their presence felt are Sally’s slightly dotty grandfather, Charles Senior, (Peter Archer) and Marcus’s subversive, libidinous grandmother Maggie, played with relish by Paula Bailey.
David Allan is a skilful wordsmith and his witty and perceptive dialogue soon reveals shadows from the past as the families get to know one another. There is a cameo role for Marion Archer as the condescending wedding planner, Cressida Blackstone, and it is during her visit that a secret is revealed which threatens the young couple’s wedding plans. Everything is finally resolved with a further revelation which secures their future happiness.
The pace of the production dipped in the second act but overall this was a very amusing and enjoyable play. It deserves many more performances."
The Panto Players performed Puss in Boots in February 2014. Kate Alderson saw the show and writes as follows:
Traditional pantomime is alive and well in East Harlsey
The recent production of Puss in Boots, written by Peter Long and Keith Rawnsley, was another triumph for East Harlsey Pantomime Players. Tickets were in great demand and all four performances were played to full or nearly full houses, such is the reputation of this talented group of performers.The story of how the Puss (Catherine Bailey) dons a pair of magic boots to help his penniless, deposed master regain wealth, power and the hand in marriage of a princess (Holly Dyke) is seemingly simple, but it was transformed into a rollicking romp by directors Judith Allan and Sarah Martin and the Pantomime Players.
The audience was taken from the Cornfields at Barley Bottom to the Royal Palace, and onwards to Crow Castle and Carrabas Castle, with occasional return visits to Barley Bottom for respite and further revelations. Along the way there was some great comedy (especially from half-wits Dusty and Crusty played by Shirley Smith and Leah Wilson) and villainy, the latter being provided by Julian Whaley who gave full rein to his dark side as the evil Crowman. In true pantomime tradition, he was rewarded by a cacophony of boos and hisses whenever he appeared on stage.
This lively production featured polished performances by all the cast who were ably supported by a chorus of adults and, especially, the junior girls chorus of Thea Dyke, Catherine Whaley, Lucy Sharpe, Harriet Walton and Lizzie Willey. The result was fun-filled entertainment for all ages with many opportunities for audience participation. The backstage crew also played their part in the show’s success being responsible for some dramatic make-up, colourful costumes and scenery, and atmospheric lighting. The set design and props team, in particular, rose to the challenge of producing some amazing, and occasionally explosive, special effects (Mike Smith and Paul Sanderson).
So thank you East Harlsey Pantomime Players for another truly memorable show and for bringing colour and fun to this damp and dreary winter. More of the same next year please.
East Harlsey Players put on their autumn production of Art for Art's Sake in October 2013
Shirley Smith reviewed the show:
"The audiences enjoyed an excellent night out when East Harlsey Players presented the world première of this comedy by Geoff Bamber,directed by David Allan. The play centres around the Gibson family on the eve of their daughter’s third wedding and provided some very funny moments and dialogue.
Richard Martin did not disappoint as art dealer David Gibson trying to combine business and pleasure, hoping to sell a rare painting and make a fortune. The role of his wife Jean was played by Judith Allan who, as always, was convincingly at home in her role as long-suffering wife, with some great mannerisms and gestures. Leah Wilson played unlucky-in-love daughter Samantha with just the right amount of controlled hysteria. Making his début, Nick Lane played the extreme-sports loving bridegroom-to-be; now that his acting abilities and outrageous shirt have been witnessed by all we will hopefully see him on stage again in the future.
Sarah Martin left the comfort of pantomime to play family friend Christine, a man-eater with a penchant for flashing her breasts at unsuspecting males. She appeared to relish this role and I suspect that she has now met her ‘alter ego’. The comedy was added to by the arrival of Richard Anderson as the academic but unlucky-in-love Uncle Brian, while Paula Bailey as the rich American Dolores, complete with accent, was supposedly here to buy a painting but with her own hidden agenda.
Director David Allan once again managed to pull together his cast to give the audience an entertaining night out. Special mention must go to Richard Anderson's bow tie which obviously thought it deserved a bigger part after the first night as it took on a life of its own, providing unscripted comic moments."
In February 2013, the East Harlsey Players put on their production of Jack and the Beanstalk, by Adam Frayn, directed by Judith Allan with help from Sarah Martin for musical contributions, the chorus and the youngsters' routines.
In October 2012 the Players presented the full length play Deborah's Party, a comedy by Geoff Bamber and directed by David Allan. Everything you could think of went wrong with Deborah's (Judith Allan) plans to find a suitable partner for her freind, Jenny (Leah Wilson), not exactly encouraged by her long suffering husband Alan (Richard Martin). Jenny was perfectly dressed in her micro-mini as she wooed Simon (Julian Whaley). The electrician Trevor Gosling (Peter Archer) couldn't understand what was going on except that he really fancied Mrs Seymour, the stand-in cook (Marian Wilson).
Robinson Crusoe and the Pirates was our traditional pantomime presented in February 2012, directed by Sarah Martin.