Most professional Pantomimes are finished by New Year, leaving audiences to get through dreary January with little to laugh at. However, Lutterworth is different. Lucky folks there could come to the Wycliffe Drama Group’s yearly panto, and enjoy a really fun show at the end of the month. This year they gave us “Beauty and the Beast”.
The performers were largely young and new to the WDG, although there was a sprinkling of the experienced members using their comedy skills to great effect. Dickie Wood was the Dame, Richard Holyoak the “Giant French Poodle” Max. Among the newer performers was Liz White, a beautiful Beauty, and her prince was Xander Stone. Jacques and Valentine were played by Harry Pearson and Elena Willcox, and the wicked witch Malabelle was Naomi Cooper-another really attractive young actress despite her black heart. (Don’t worry, she was turned into a poodle at the end and happily married Max!) My personal favourite was the unhappy Beast, (Scott Cooper with great makeup).
Added into this mix were talking furniture and a clock, wolves, pages, townspeople and some delightful dance routines from the Warrington School of Dance. We enjoyed an evening of truly British entertainment. Hurrah for Pantomime! Long may it reign and long may young people enjoy both watching and appearing in it.
Adapted from the novel by Mary Shelley by Richard Hill
The poet W H Auden wrote ”Those to whom evil is done, do evil in return”. This is the basis of Mary Shelley’s extraordinary gothic horror novel “Frankenstein”, written in 1818, when she was just 18. Viktor Frankenstein brings life to a creature made of body parts. He expects it to be better than mankind, filled with goodness. Sadly the Creature’s terrifying looks drive people to hate him and attempt to kill him and sadly he becomes an evil murderer. The play, put on by Lutterworth’s own Wycliffe Drama Group, was adapted from the book by Richard Hill, who also directed and produced it. Many congratulations to him.
It was gripping and terrifying but Russ Crooks, in his terrific portrayal as the Creature, conveyed his terrible sadness, and loneliness. His makeup was amazing (Andrea Nichol and Jane Clark deserve a special mention!)
This play was very well acted. The tortured Viktor, full of remorse, was Julian Mitchell and his distressed friend, Henry, was Xander Stone, in a polished debut performance. The blind girl, who so nearly saved our Creature, was beautifully played by Elizabeth White. Young William Winterton joined the WDG to play both Young Viktor and the poor little William. (An acting career could lie ahead for him!)
The group‘s experienced actors had key roles. Keith Parkin had gravitas as the kindly sea captain. Melanie Lee was the doomed Elizabeth, Viktor’s fiancée, loving, but helpless to help him. Ian Gibson was the old man who only wanted to protect his blind granddaughter, but added to the tragedy.
I possibly would not have chosen to watch a horror play but I trust the WDG, and they never disappoint—it was a fantastic piece of theatre, and thoroughly thought provoking. Well done to you all.