Association of Community Theatre


written by Barry Crossley

Hyde Little Theatre


Hyde Little Theatre has a reputation in the local area for delivering a good standard of pantomime and this year, for the very first time, the production was a SELL OUT. Congratulations, not many societies can claim that these days.


This pantomime, set around the legend of the man in Lincoln green, along with his merry men of Sherwood Forest, robbed from the rich and gave to the poor, had everything that you could want in pantomime. There were songs, dances, colourful costumes, goodies to cheer, baddies to boo, a principal boy, a principal girl, a jester, a Dame, Nurse Nellie, great audience participation, a song sheet and a number of “aww” moments in between scenes.


This script by Barry Crossley, who himself played Dame characters for this society for a number of years, was well crafted, written with humour and an understanding of what people find funny, with just a hint of naughtiness. The plot culminated with the inevitable Good overcoming Evil, but along the way there was a mixture of silly gags, a great jousting slapstick scene, a gorilla “it’s behind you” scene, and humour that engaged the young and the adult audience. Everyone had a thoroughly wonderful time.


The scenes generally had a good pace, and there was good line delivery from the performers. about them. Occasionally this slowed where ad-libbing meant slight deviation from the plot and lines But this is pantomime and it really doesn’t matter: the audience will go with you and eventually everything gets back on course.


I believe an extra scene was added to the original script and this turned out to be a hoot. It was all about a furry mammal, a beaver. It just so happened that the night I watched the show, a group of Beaver cubs was in the audience, and Nurse Nellie got one of their leaders on stage. The banter was excellent. The children all thought, in all innocence, that it was hilarious while the adults had a great time laughing at the innuendo.


Becky Wolstencroft was our hero principal boy, Robin Hood. She was confident and engaged with those in the audience as well as those on stage. Becky has continued to grow as a performer over the years that I have watched her on stage. Her dialogue delivery was clear, she was assured in her role and she sang beautifully, and she was complete with a great principal thigh slap on her first appearance.


Opposite our hero and love interest was Kat Rawling, every inch the innocent damsel, Maid Marion, who would do anything to save Robin, including marrying the evil Sheriff of Nottingham, played by Terry Doctor. This was a great part for Terry. I had never seen him in this kind of role before but I thought that it suited him well, down to the menace on stage and the deep growling voice. Together with Witch Morgana, Tracey Parker, they moved the plot along with plenty for the audience to boo at and to get involved with.


On the lighter side was Millie Noonan, as Fairy Bluebell. She did all she could to subvert the evil goings on. Millie delivered her lines well and in rhyme sprinkling her magic around. There was a nice piece of on point ballet that you rarely see these days.


The Merry men of Sherwood Forest, Mark Stephenson, Anna Richardson, Kate Johnson and Chesney Talbot all added to the mayhem of the story, as well as the dotty King Richard, played by Cavan Slate, who didn’t have a horse but a galloping gnome, Dave Mellor, with coconut shells to make the galloping noise, which added to the silliness.


Simon Sullivan donned the frocks and wigs of Nurse Nellie and had a great catch phrase for every time he made an entrance onstage which engaged the audience. He pouted and moved sedately through the scenes. Maybe a little more energy from the character would have helped in some scenes with the pace.


Adding to the mayhem was the court jester, Ian Chatterton. This actor worked hard on stage and engaged with the audience throughout with his silly antics and stupidity. He even decorated his beard during the interval with light-up baubles to remind us it is Christmas.


The director, Seb Lassandro, kept the scenes flowing and had obviously liaised well with his lighting and stage crew. There were scenes that lighting clearly defined the Good and Bad characters.  There was also a superb UV scene. The scenes for the Castle Dungeons and Robin Hoods Hideout were staged well, and decorated effectively.


The dancing and choreography, devised by Mel Hibbert, was super and, accompanied with a mixture of click track and live music by Michael Holmes, Sam Hirst and Martin Webber, was delightful. It meant that the Villagers, Senior and Junior dancers were able to shine. The Golden Arrow Pageant at the end of Act 1 was excellent and showcased a powerful performance by Emily Hobson, as the Circus Master, to an excerpt of The Greatest Showman. It was nice to see the full stage being used to allowed creativity.


Now, to the “aww” moments. Pantomime is always made even more special when there is a Mini’s dance section by the very young performers. For many of them this might be their first time on stage but they steal everyone’s heart with their performances. We, the audience, cannot help but smile as they diligently get through their well-rehearsed routines whilst they are ignoring (mostly) the audience.


The director had saved a final surprise for the bows at the end when Maid Marion arrived on stage riding a fully grown “pony”. There were gasps from the audience as this enjoyable pantomime came to an end. Congratulations once again on the “Sell Out”. I look forward to seeing more in the future…Oh, yes I do!