NODA Review of "Scrooge - the Panto"
Monday, Feb 10, 2014 4:31 pm
Benenden Players
Scrooge The Panto - Written and Directed by Beverley Beveridge

Benenden Village Hall
Saturday 25th January Matinee performance
Musical Director: Graham Beveridge

Bev Beveridge’s adaptation of  Dickens’s  ‘A Christmas Carol’ to ‘Scrooge The Panto’ with a Benenden twist was quite a challenge. Being a somewhat dark story to deal with she managed to incorporate both light and shade resulting in a most pleasing piece plus enabling the whole cast to shine. The time is 1843 and business partner Jacob Marley has been dead for some seven years. He returns to haunt Ebenezer Scrooge hoping to change his miserly character before it’s too late. Scrooge eventually repents after looking back over his life, gives his faithful clerk a raise, and his heart once more fills with laughter. Adding the excellent musical choices from husband Graham as MD, the afternoon came alive from opening and developed into an excellent team production.

Luzita Hill was on duty in the busy foyer ably assisted by a bevy of lovely Dickensian young ladies offering programmes.  We were shown to front row raised stall seats with very good viewing. The auditorium was filling nicely, whilst the band dressed in Chas and Dave style played old time music hall numbers getting our feet tapping. We bought raffle tickets again but regretfully no winners! Here’s hoping you made a good profit. Ice creams and Bev’s beverages were provided in the interval by the Bar Team.

PROGRAMME: An A5, 16 page comprehensive booklet in colour, including some black an white Dickensian etchings, a very interesting history lesson on the origins of the story, Director and MD notes, cast members, scenes and acknowledgements with supportive local advertising.  Such a pity about page 12!

Graham played keyboard, with young James Angel  (following musician Dad’s footsteps) on drums plus providing  percussion interludes, and  Robin Vesma again on bass guitar.  Well chosen numbers mainly from ‘the shows’ included Don’t Worry Be Happy, Money, If I Were A Rich Man, My Favourite Things, Master of the House from Les Mis, Lambeth Walk, I’m a Woman,  to name but a few, with some most enjoyable vocal performances.

The four man Scenery team created once again most imaginative, colourful and well finished sets.  The aqua and blue surround was really attractive,  an atmospheric Christmas Eve set depicting Scrooge’s Office including  the high writing desk and a mouse on either side excellent. Also notable were the interiors of The Bull Inn, Scratchit and Freddie’s house, and magical sparkling Village backcloth, a credit.  Very good props provided.

COSTUMES: A tremendous amount of thought and hard work was put into the wonderful selection of quality costumes - some purely Dickensian, others most imaginative, with Marley based on  Jamaican Rastafarian Bob Marley in his clanking chains and his Wailing Wailers uniforms plus their colourful Rasta hats for the finale, brilliant.  The four Costume ladies worked wonders – the cast looked amazing. 

Attention to detail here in characterization from Bev assisted by parents and teens and there were some terrific wigs (and not just the ladies) plus face painting.

  The lighting effects created just the eerie feel of spookiness and lines were delivered loud and clear.  I did at times have difficulty with the sharpness of sound on Marley’s clanking chains, and sometimes personal mikes were not angled correctly for clarity.

THE PRODUCTION:  Well Bev you’ve done it again.  This production was faultless and I loved that fact that all your members are so included.  This was a true village team effort from both the cast and back stage crew under John Clarke’s stage management. The continuity was good as were entrances and exits. With both comedy and pathos, great numbers and audience involvement, there were some big characters and I particularly enjoyed Grant Mathews interpretation of Marley as a Rastafarian.  You kept your accent going throughout and your team of Wailers were good mimics and obviously enjoyed themselves! I congratulate all the Scrooges David, Peter, Tom and young George and accompanying Mice Orla Morris and Rosa Westcott deserving that huge chunk of cheddar. Owen Mathews portrayed an excellent, beautifully spoken Freddie. Landlord of The Bull, Mark Barron Reid playing Meriweather was certainly ‘Master of the House’ with a terrific rendition of this Les Mis song, strongly supported by Bonny Sullivan as Lucia.  Bob Barrow both looked and sounded just perfect as Chafe Scratchit and again he was well supported by his stage family members.  Angela Patrick adorned in white, made a super Ambrosia.  Another vocal that made a huge impact was ‘If I Were A Rich Man’ sung by Peter Angel as Young Scrooge. The many other cameo roles, too many to mention individually, were performed convincingly.  Congratulations all round.

To you all  sincere  thanks for  a most  enjoyable matinee.  A shorter version of this review will appear on the NODA website soon.

Anne Lawson
Regional Representative
NODA South East District 3