Orchard Players invite you to Neverland (well, Capel St Mary) for a magical panto
- Credit: Archant
Need adventure? You want the second star to the right (well, the A1214 and A12) as Capel St Mary’s Orchard Players present Peter Pan. Entertainment writer Wayne Savage sprinkled himself with fairy dust and headed to Neverland to find out more.
There’s a lot of excited cast members running through routines under the watchful eye of 17-year-old choreographer Hannah Cocks, also playing Tinkerbell in the show, when I arrive at the village hall.
Beavering away behind a rail of costumes is wardrobe mistress Julie Wardley - taking on the roles of Liza, pirate Mason and mermaid Myrtle when she’s got time to put her needle and thread away - and her assistant Tonicha Rice.
More magic is happening in the storage room to my right, as props master AJ Hawley-Thomas makes sures fake swords and Nana’s kennel are ready. There are still a few finishing touches to be made to Hook’s ship wheel - which started life as a rostrum and chair base - before it’s shipshape.
Full of the usual singing, dancing and laughs you’ve come to expect from the group; this panto marks a departure for the cast. Rather than performing on the usual stage, they’ll be flanked on three sides by the audience.
“Performing the production in the thrust stage (think of the shape of a horseshoe) is a new, exciting challenge. The cast have really warmed to the idea,” says director Rob Maplestone, who’s playing the Genie in the Landseer Players’ February pantomime Aladdin.
It’s the first time they’ve changed the layout of the hall for the production. With the technical team based on the stage, the new shape allows for an extra 15 seats and more audience interaction. It was important for everybody that the audience feel part of the show, with the actors coming right up to you and weaving through the seats. They want you to feel like you’re journeying to Neverland with Wendy and co.
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“The cast are responding really well to the stage. Rob and I have watched it from different side angles to get a view of what the audience will be seeing and then we can adjust... The actors have had to really think about where they’re positioning themselves and that they’re not standing with their back for too long to this side; it’s been a real challenge,” says his sister Lucy Maplestone-Singh, the assistant director and musical operator.
The pair know what they’re doing, having appeared in Orchard Players productions since they were eight.
“It’s going to be a stunning production, full of fairytale, Neverland adventure. We’ve an amazing, strong, talented cast with some exciting musical numbers,” adds Rob.
“The costumes have almost all been made by our wardrobe mistress Julie and her very talented assistant Tonicha. The attention to detail they’re giving to the costumes is absolutely brilliant. We’ve got a fantastic team and I’d personally like to thank them all.”
Boasting a 30-plus cast, Peter Pan runs January 14-16 at Capel Village Hall. Shows start at 7.30pm nightly with a 2.30pm matinee on the Saturday. Tickets are £8 adults, £6 concessions and £5 children, available from the box office on 07754 175399