Capel St Mary: Orchard Players make sure everybody lives happy ever after in new panto

Orchard Players present Happy Ever After in January. Photos: Simon Palmer

Orchard Players present Happy Ever After in January. Photos: Simon Palmer - Credit: Archant

Everybody lives happy ever after in pantoland... or do they? They will if the Orchard Players have anything to do with it.

Orchard Players present Happy Ever After in January. Photos: Simon Palmer

Orchard Players present Happy Ever After in January. Photos: Simon Palmer - Credit: Archant

Happy Ever After, a traditional family show with a modern musical twist, has been written by local duo Damien Laverty and Giles Meehan.

Orchard Players present Happy Ever After in January. Photos: Simon Palmer

Orchard Players present Happy Ever After in January. Photos: Simon Palmer - Credit: Archant

With more princesses than you can shake a magic wand at, talking trees, a dame, a prince and just about every other panto character you can think of, it follows those still trying to find their happy ending.

Orchard Players present Happy Ever After in January. Photos: Simon Palmer

Orchard Players present Happy Ever After in January. Photos: Simon Palmer - Credit: Archant

“The original idea was what happens after these princesses have met their princes and all the rest of it and it kind of grew from there,” says Giles, who wrote the music and co-wrote the lyrics.

Orchard Players present Happy Ever After in January. Photos: Simon Palmer

Orchard Players present Happy Ever After in January. Photos: Simon Palmer - Credit: Archant

“Half of Pantoville have had their happy ever afters and the other half are still waiting; this is the story of those who are still waiting,” says Damien, who co-wrote the lyrics and is directing.

“There are three different stories running through it; we’ve got the Witch’s son whose entire mission is to try and be good but how to you do that if you’re born to be bad? Then there’s Rapunzel’s more traditional storyline of the trapped princess who needs and then there’s Jack and Jill,” The paid only met last year via a different drama group. The idea for Happy Ever After came while watching The Gallery Players production of Love Story at Ipswich’s New Wolsey Theatre.

“Damien just turned to me halfway through the interval and said ‘do you fancy helping me write a couple of songs, for a panto I’m writing’. It wasn’t really until three or four months later we went ‘this is slowly becoming a full score musical’,” laughs Giles. “Basically between us we ended up writing 15 brand new songs as a full scale musical.”

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Several months and tweaks later the show is coming along nicely.

“We’ve just under a month to go... in the last two or three rehearsals some parts have really taken shape which is great to see and there are others where you think there’s still a huge amount of work to do,” laughs Giles, who also has a small cameo as Aladdin. “But it should become a really great show.”

Damien always knew it was going to need a large cast - there are just under 30 - given how many characters they’re packing in.

“You can’t really do this story without a large cast... we’ve also got Glinda, Belinda and Buttons from Cinderella; five princesses, some quite Disney-fied and others more modern...”

Approached as a musical more than a panto, it’s packed with tunes and songs that serve the story rather than just as filler between set-pieces. That’s not to say it isn’t full of laugh out loud moments and dance numbers.

“There’s a big range of humour,” says Giles. “There are a lot of jokes stuffed in there. If someone saw the show four times they’d actually find more in it every time I think. It’s got heart and soul too, a bit of drama to it as pantomimes go.”

Will Rapunzel ever get out of that tower? Will Jill ever find true love? What happens when the Witch’s son tries to be nice? And what happens when everything starts to go wrong? Find out from 7.30pm at Capel St Mary Village Hall from January 9-11, with a 2.30pm matinee on the Saturday. Tickets are available now from Capel Greengrocers or by calling the box office on 07761 782456.

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