The Good, The Bad & The Panto

NODA Said:


22nd APRIL 2016

This was my first visit to Alvechurch Dramatic Society. I was however aware of their in-house pantomimes. The Good, The Bad and The Panto was the fourth pantomime written by Chris Davies and Paul Chamberlain with additional material written by Jan Brice and Susan Resuggan.

The whole experience of the production met the audience on arriving at the village hall. All the front of house staff and bar staff were dressed as wild west Indians and cowboys. The hall itself was decorated with items on the wall and blackout curtains and wagon wheels hanging from the ceiling – a very nice touch.

The hall was full and clearly consisted of many people from the local community who had got to know about their local society. I was fascinated by the panto bag placed on each seat with instructions not to use or eat the contents until encouraged to do so by the cast. The contents consisting of a chocolate gold coin, a feather and a piece of newspaper were used as props by the audience during the show as part of the script.

The show was lengthy with act one lasting 80 minutes. Some routines such as the breaking wind and the characters learning to dance could have been reduced and some of the numerous gags could have been cut. Nevertheless, the script was funny with both local references (such as those regarding a pub) and topical references such as to President elect Trump.

There was a large cast of 23 named parts plus two horses. Despite having such a large cast the director managed to get the whole company on stage. However, with so many in the show it is not possible to name everyone other than to say the whole company gave their all.

The panto told the tale of the Twerp family, originally from Dudley with mentions of West Bromwich Albion, who moved over the pond in search of gold. Although set in the wild west the authors managed to get in all the ingredients of panto with plenty of audience participation.

Chris Davies was not only a co-author and director but also played the part of Miss Kitty, the traditional dame. His routines were excellent every bit the dame with all the usual innuendo. The dame had many laughter lines such as one around Shakespeare and been ‘bard’ from the saloon

Ma Twerp was well played by Maura Williams who headed a family of five children. Wassa Twerp (Jonathan Oseland) Wyer Twerp (Tim Reading) and Watta Twerp (Martin Salter) were three knockabout sons with their sister Winnie Twerp (Emily Waller). The fifth child was our hero and principal boy Doody Twerp (Leah Yendell) who acted and sang her (his) way through the tale.

Further clever play with names came with Nora Bone (Tracy Kirkland), Carrie Oakey (Myfanwy Griffiths) and Imar Coming (Rebecca Jenkins) who finally married the three Twerp brothers.

Both Gemma Batty as Calamity Jane and Anna Pearson as Minihaha played for the affection of our hero and both played their parts well. Sarah Batstone as Dream Catcher keep the action going during some of the scene changes with enthusiasm.

As in all pantos we needed a baddie. Susan Resuggan as Big Jessie James played the part to attract the usual booing and hissing aided by her sidekicks Coleen and Bernie as the Nolan sisters who worked well together. These three characters had some good scenes playing against the Sheriff (Adam Brown) who portraited humorous facial expressions while trying to do good.

The Indian leaders who at times spoke in clipped English worked well together. Their pipe of peace was exchanged for a vaporiser.

The music was provided by a band under the leadership of fellow author Paul Chamberlain. The songs were all well-known including many from well-known musicals with some word changes. These were very clever for example the Deadwood stage – ‘whip crack away’ was changed to ‘blame Doris Day’.

The set was particularly well made by members of the society who need to be congratulated. We saw the Twerp’s log cabin, an impressive Golden Nugget Saloon and an Indian camp. The detail was good such as drink bottles in the salon with the poison image on them and the names on the horse stable. Wanted posters in the saloon were for notorious outlaws such as Wild Bill Cockup. The costumes were effective throughout the show.

Sound effects were used throughout the show such as with the spittoon but the doors on the saloon bar are worth a special mention and well done to whoever devised a different sound every time someone arrived (or was thrown out) of the Golden Nugget.

Thank you to all at Alvechurch Dramatic Society for your welcome. See you again in May 2017.

Andy Brown.