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Silchester Players - Dracula - the Panto

23rd, 24th, 30th and 31st January 2004.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Something to get your teeth into

Silchester Players: Dracula The Panto, at Silchester Village Hall, on Friday, January 23, Saturday, January 24, Friday, January 30 and Saturday, January 31

The Silchester Players brought a Gothic twist to the pantomime season with their latest production Dracula the Panto.

Jim Sperinck's lively script provided ample opportunity for the group to display their dramatic and dancing talents, under the strong guidance of director Sarah Oliver. Though the pace was a little slow at times, the performance was polished and highly enjoyable.

The story offers plenty of excitement and mayhem, as Count Dracula sends his henchman Boris down to the neighbouring village to kidnap Sonia (Erin Kirby), to add her to his harem.

But thanks to the intervention of Fairy Garlic (Caroline Norton) and principal boy Richard (confidently played by the tuneful Emma Williams), Dracula ends up with a whole heap of trouble instead.

At the centre of the cast, Ian Hartwell gave an excellent performance as the dame, Rosie Glow, relating easily to the audience and providing excellent comic continuity between the scenes.

He was well-supported by the comic double act of Tony Oliver and Brian Gillett as Steak and Kidney, two very unlikely chefs at the Flying Mouse Inn, while Andy Ballingal, as the young Jack, provided further lively audience participation.

Kevin Belcher, in the title role, made a deliciously evil Count, dominating the stage with his eerie laughter. Alan Moorhouse was nicely cast as his reluctant sidekick Boris, and Ellie Cullen and Jo Nobbs were suitably creepy as Dracula's ghostly brides.

The action was liberally peppered with musical chorus numbers directed by musical director Stephen Oliver (who also wrote some of the pieces), and smoothly choreographed by Trevor Dobson and Sarah Oliver.

It was refreshing to see so many smiling faces among the junior chorus, and it was clear that everyone was having a great time as they transformed themselves from townsfolk to skeletons to teddybears and back again.

There were some good pieces for the principals too, such as their hilariously-chaotic variation of If I were not upon the stage.

As usual, Silchester Players paid great attention to every detail of the production.

Tim Oliver's atmospheric lighting deserves a special mention, as does Kevin Belcher's fine sets.

Dracula the Panto continues this weekend - it's well worth the trip.