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Philip Evans


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Kids steal the show as Peter Pan flies into Axminster again

Friday, 24 January 2014

PETER Pan flew into Axminster again last week to score yet another pantomime success for Axminster Drama Club.
In his programme notes, director Tim Leat recalled the last time the club staged the panto and how much they had enjoyed J.M. Barrie’s timeless tale of the mischieveous boy who can fly but never ages.
Indeed, that 2002 production brought back so many happy memories that the club decided to unleash the flying boy on the Guildhall stage once again.
So the Leat family set about rewriting the script with a few more current corny jokes and put together a cast with plenty of experience and a gang of 25 children, directed by Sara Leat, who stole the show.
This version of Peter Pan had all the ingredients of a successful panto - a dastardly villain in captain Hook, a swashbuckling principal boy, plenty of comic interludes and terrible jokes, some hilarious ad libs, cute kids who danced their socks off and - at least on the opening night - a highly entertaining interlude when the public (mainly kids, of course) were enticed onto the stage.
Realistic crocodile
Oh, and a very realistic looking crocodile, propelled expertlyaround the stage by Naomi Green, not forgetting Nana The Dog (Mel Ayres) and Peregrine The Parrott (Leah Miles).
Emily-Keziah Green made a dramatic flying entrance as Peter Pan, leading her gang of lost kids throughout Neverland with panache.
Top marks also to Jessica Leat for her energetic portrayal of Peter Pan’s shadow.
Tucker Stevens made a realistic Captain Hook with his flowing dark locks, encouraging the audience at every opportunity to boo and hiss, which they did with enthusiasm. It was a very realistic and polished performance and he also doubled up in the role of Mr Darling.
The Darling family were completed with confident portrayals by Becca Barnes, Mattie Taylor, Toni Rouse and little Sophie Alexander-Mitchell, a talented stage performer in the offing if ever I saw one with her multitude of facial expressions which for me were one of the highlights of the show. A star in the making.
Much of the humour fell on the broad shoulders of Leigh Conley, as Captain Cook’s inept side-kick, Mr Smee, who led a motley crew of the most tame pirates you could imagine, all played with a great sense of fun by Tom Leat, Mike Dowling, Simon Painter Leah Miles and Roly Kelly.
Janet Rex and Anne Baker completed their ranks as female pirates Randy Mandy and Desperate Deidre.
Jack Price and Dan Wilde brought some knock-about fun to the proceedings as Sauce-Pan and Marzi-Pan.
Stars of the show, however, were undoubtedly Eileen Stuart and Caroline Markham, two of my favourite local performers, as the Welsh Indians Hunt’m High and Hunt’m Low who had the audience in stitches throughout, and especially when they enticed a handsome young man onto stage in the audience participation interlude for the community singing of “Never Smile At a Crocodile”. This was panto at its best.
Overall, an enjoyable evening’s entertainment and I will forgive them for promoting the Midweek Herald on stage!
Tim Leat and his assistant director Andrew Coley can take a bow for putting together another memorable panto with great support from the team of back stage and front of house helpers.
The lost children were played by: Amber Coombes, Amber Morgan, Ben Seward, Chloe Morgan, Edi Rouse, Emily Margetts, Evie Coley, Grace Baulch, Hariet Coley, Holly Seward, India Foster, Jasmine McAuley, Jessica Leat, Phoebe Coombes, Piper Conley, Sophie Smith, Tony Massey, William Alexander-Mitchell and Willow Vincent.
The band, under the direction of Rob Preece, included Robert Isles (bass) and Glyn Rattenbury (drums) with Becca Barnes playing the flute on stage.
Production team: Tim Leat (producer and director); Andy Coley (assistant producer and director and stage manager); Sara Leat (children’s director); The Black Shirt Gang (stage crew); Tony Fells (lighting); Ashley Roy (sound); Paul Smith, Bill Stuart, Ashley Roy, Gavin Coombes, Andy Coley and Tim Leat (set construction); Jackie Demkiw and Heather White (scenery painting); Sara Dowell, Yvonne Ayres and ladies of the club and friends (wardrobe team); Josie and Kerry Cable (make up); Roly and Sue Kelly (makers of the crocodile); Thelma Critchard and Archway Bookshop (box office); Jackie Demkiw (front of house manager); members and friends with thanks to Axminster Operatic Society (front of house refreshment team); Tim Leat and Jack Price (publicity); Dave Somerton-Rees and Ashley Roy (poster design); Jenny Fells (banners); Adrian Ayres (sign boards); Joy Skarrat (draw organiser); Marion Hansell and Yvonne and Mel Ayres (sweet stall).

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