‘Robin Hood and the Witches of Sherwood’ is a colourful traditional pantomime being presented by the Ellenbrook Theatre Company at the Ellenbrook Performing Arts Centre, 100 Main Street in Ellenbrook.
The two-and a half hour performances are every evening at 7.30 until Tuesday 24th December. On Saturday and Sundays there is an afternoon performance at 2.00 pm and an evening show at 7.00 pm.
The scene: The city of Nottingham, just outside the castle walls on the edge of Sherwood Forest.
The set: The set mainly comprised three massive rotating units. they were solidly constructed and artistically painted. They represented a village street scene and a forest dene, complete with a huge amount of natural looking vegetation. Sean Breadsell who was the photographer and visualisation artist, won the Ellenbrook Arts Award for his impressive photography.
The massive range of Props were sourced by Zac Ozolins.
The audio was very smoothly operated by Shane Larson, an audio engineer who has 20 years working with professional touring musicians. His assistant was Kaemon Larson a keen year 10 student. Another student, Dusan Nikora, was in charge of the intricate lighting. Very good teching.
A Stage Manager with years of experience, Savannah Page has to be admired as she and her team fought (and won) to control the enormous number of children, dozens of entrances and exits, along with the complicated scene changes.
Chester (Gillian Paton-Plant – who has a decade with the Ellenbrook clan) strides onto the set and explains to the gathering that the dreaded Sheriff of Nottingham (Adam Skellham) – boo hiss – is taxing everyone to the point of starvation. On hearing this, Debonair Robin Hood (Robert Tomlinson – good fun) and his merry men, Will Scarlett (James Skellham), Friar Tuck complete with authentic tonsure (Sethen Oreo), Big John (1-Kayden Skellham, 2-Sophia Healdgrove – alternating) and the musical Alan-a-Dale, guitarist and singer (Isabella Gethin) gather in the forest and decide that the Sheriff must be stopped and that Prince John (Zachary Ozolins) should rule again.
Nursie, the man-hunting Dame (Peter Boylen) and her young trendy palomino, Dobbin (Ali McNamara) hear that the beautiful Maid Marion (Latifah Kahamba, only her third time acting) is seeking the help of a coven of witches who live in Sherwood. These crones were Witch Acne (Joanne Skellham – who, with her children filling half the cast, cannot be that ugly!), Witch Wart (Lisa Merrit) and Witch Pimple B.A. (Ellen Parfrey) who gathered items for their spells from unsuspecting audience children.
The rosy-faced comic duo of Nutsy (Sylvia Guest) and Dipsy (Lyndsey Turner) were dressed in bright blue – Dipsy worked particularly well together as they disastrously tried to help. The handsome Sergeant (Todd Halvorson) was in charge of the knights on horseback, who were dressed in shining armour and scarlet tabards were Carrie Robbins, Hayden Adcock, Matthew Bacon, Natasha Holt and Shaun Busher. Kindly Molly (Caitlan Holmes) warned the villagers of trouble and fought against evil like the rugged heartless guards (Harry Andrews, Lloyd Raycraft).
Even though the Villagers and Sherwood Trees may seem like minor parts they added life and depth to every scene. Well done Sofia Sciaffini, Daniela Schiaffini. Connor Doyle, Lewis Gage, Aneta Vaclavik, Amalie Vaclavik, Summer Mitchell, Bertie Turrell-Knight and Liam Hislop. .
Environment student, Max Hughes has taken a study break to become the Dance Choreographer. With many shows under his belt he has taken on the impressive Senior Dancers Leoni Robbins, Bree Skellham, Lily Stopp, Niamh Brien, Eva Durham, Sheridan Spencer, Jessica Tucker, Lexi Brindley and Mia Yeatman who tackled several styles of dancing. The seniors helped Max guide the enchanting Junior Dancers Ruby-Annabelle Robbins, Shari Ketteridge, Evie Lake, Melody O’Dea-Lester, Baylie Taylor and Emily Saxton through their routines. EVERY dancer smiled as they performed beautifully. After their graceful exhibition they exited quickly and smoothly like a troupe of true professionals.
Catherine Healdgrove as Costume Assistant and seamstress can be proud of her team. Most satisfying but with children being involved, at the end of each show there is always a queue of torn outfits.
Sylvia Guest, who played Nutsy was also responsible for the delightful and imaginative makeup; from the delicate dancers’ make-up, to that of the grotesque witches – fabulous. Even Peter as Nursie looked attractive in the dim light (then on second thoughts ….).
The Director Ali McNamara has been in several shows for this company, but this is her first chance at directing. Working with children can be a disaster but Ali has generously given many first timers their big break and a chance to star and they have rewarded her bravery very well. The standard of every character was extremely well portrayed.
It is the first time that I have seen a vertical pantomime horse. Standing upright on two legs, Dobbin was enchanting and a change from some of the weary 2-man pantomime nags.
The acting talent ranged from a capable little youngster on stage for the first time, then onto many of the cast who are barely teenagers, up to a couple theatre graduates. Then, there are acting enthusiasts who have completely different day jobs – one is even a local GP. shine. A talented import from Albany is Robert Tomlinson who as Robin was a great find. You can see the huge amount of rehearsal and hard work that has gone into this success. WELL DONE.
A general comment on MOST modern pantomimes.
Where most theatre shows for adults are designed to last about two hours, including the interval; whilst many pantomimes traditionally aimed at children from 4 upwards now go for two and a half hours – just that little bit too long. This pantomime has a very funny script with lots of clever double-entendres for the adults, but anyone under 8 or 9 would have had trouble following large pieces of the story or the dialogue terms. My grandson had ‘ear wax’ collected from his ear (which amazingly did not seem to bother him) but later he asked what is ear wax? Then I heard other children asking what is a sheriff? (Yes, the days of cowboys and Indians have gone). What are ‘taxes’ that they are collecting – are they flowers?
In almost every pantomime the slapstick battle between the two idiots has gone – messy but a big winner.
Children get bored with dozens of ‘Hello ***’ but love to be given the task of shouting ‘behind you’ or for help when guarding a person or treasure.
** I must assure everyone that I am not aiming these comments at any particular panto but at the majority in general. I can thoroughly recommend this production but to the scriptwriters, please aim the shows at the very young as well as giving the parents a ‘private’ laugh.