Wales do panto in perfect style

Despite the snow, there was a good turnout for the final night of Babes in the Wood at The Montgomery Theatre, Sheffield.

This venue has a unique atmosphere and is the setting for Wales Methodist Pantomime Players’ annual show.

I can only say that to go to one of their shows is to become part of a small, friendly theatre family. Roy Staniforth MBE started the group 68 years ago, only stepping down last year. But he still wrote the script for this year’s Babes in the Wood and was in the audience on the final night.

Nicholas Challenger has stepped into Roy’s shoes as the Dame and has obviously taken to the role as he appeared as this year’s Dame, Daisy Dumpling. He also produced and directed the show.

Fortunately, Nick has a very bubbly and vivacious cast. Among them are some very accomplished singers - Toni Lemm, Alison Wade, Beth Chapman, Lauren Deakin, Brandon Fletcher and Joseph Bairstow. Members of the chorus, with Lynne Schofield at the helm, gave a beautiful rendition of Wherever You Are, famously sung by the Military Wives. Together with the cast the sound they produced was admirable.

The group is lucky to have some really good comedians too. Martin Crowther and Phillip Burgess appeared as Dirty Dick and Rascally Richard with Paul Burgess as Georgy Porgy. These three had a relaxed style of acting surpassed only by their obvious enjoyment of their own antics.

Friar Tuck and Little John were Dave Froggatt and Colin Barrick who seemed absolutely natural on stage and out to get as many laughs as possible.

One unforgettable routine involving Nick, Martin, Phillip and Paul was their take on The Twelve Days of Christmas with a ‘monkey up an oak tree’. They frantically leapt around the stage picking up relevant items with barely a second to spare. I laughed until I hurt – priceless.

The two stars of the show as the Babes, Jack and Jill, were Jacob and Cobie Froggatt. Although not ‘babes’ they were young and acted with assurance and humour.

Ann Mann made an elegant Greenwood Fairy and Shaun Bradley and David Stapleton were well cast as the Sherriff of Nottingham and Prince John. Shaun even turned forgotten lines into comedy moments. The remaining cast were all valuable members and some look as though they’re just itching to do more.

What a lovely, traditional show, perfectly set in a traditional theatre, a script entirely without innuendos, just totally innocent fun. I think, perhaps, the best sort of pantomime.

By Wendy Fidoe