Ashdown Pantomimers, well known for it's Forest Row Panto, is a non-profit making amateur dramatic group that welcomes participants of all ages.
The pantomime group was formed in 1988 from an idea by Ann Pavitt and Merle Joslin.
Merle donated £200 to get the group going and it has now been running for 30+ years and has performed Aladdin, Snow White, Goody Two Shoes and Red Riding Hood, to name but a few.
Our last production was Rapunzel and our production for 2019 will be Dick Whittington directed by Shane Hannam and Robin Shergold.
to opening night
Thursday January 24th at 6.45pm
Friday January 25th at 7.45pm
Saturday January 26th at 2.30pm & 7.45pm
Sunday January 27th at 11.30am
Doors (bar) open 45 minutes before the performance
Adults - £8.00
Concessions/Under 12’s - £5.00
(Online tickets incur a handling fee)
10% discount for bookings of 10 or more on Thurs from Bullfrog Music or Foresta Travel
ON SALE NOW
Tickets also available to call in from
Bullfrog Music, 15 - 17 Ship Street, East Grinstead www.bullfrogmusic.co.uk
Foresta Travel, Forest Row www.forestatravel.com
We were excited to welcome our new NODA representative, Dee Sharpe to our Thursday performance. She enjoyed the show and wrote us a lovely review.
“Director Gwen Pritchitt wrote that Rapunzel ‘has been a long-time favourite since Play Group days’ and she should be proud of directing this jolly pantomime.
It started gently with an opening song and guitar accompaniment by Pete Caruana. This foreshadowed strong singers throughout, particularly Leah Kauffman, and the junior and adult choruses were excellent. Well-choreographed numbers included the Beach Boys’ ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice,’ Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ Sister Sledge’s ‘Frankie,’ and particular favourites, ‘I need a Hero’ fabulously performed by all and Abba’s ‘Does your mother know’ with Gracie, Macie (Alex Brooker and Lacie (Annie Smith) and Prince Frederick (Julie Reilly.)
The sets were a painted meadow with lop sided castle, the castle interior, painted woodlands and a brightly coloured hair salon in the style of children’s television. Rapunzel’s cell-like room was cleverly lit with ingenious entrances and exits as characters used her long hair to climb the tower. The eerie silvery blue in the tower scenes and the red-out when the witch cast her spell were highly effective.
Costumes were black waistcoats with knickerbockers or peasant skirts for the ensemble and appropriate outfits for the key players. Gracie, Macie and Lacie’s outfits were blouses, straight black skirts and fishnet tights which seemed out of context period wise, although they did become ushers at the interval. The spiders’ costumes added extra ghastliness to their superb spider dance.
James Walsom played Dame Beatrix Bouffant with style, delivering the abundance of ‘hair’ puns and jokes such as ‘head and shoulders above the rest,’ ‘hair to the throne’ and ‘snip it in the bud,’ with vivacious charm. She had a crush on the captain of the guard (Ethan Simm,) who was hilarious in his bewilderment as he tried to pass her and she scooped him along for a waltz!
Show stealers Curly and Wurly (Robin Shergold and Shane Hannam) were like party poppers- adding colour and chaos at each appearance. There were tumbles, near misses, custard pies, a slow motion sequence and a side splitting broom dance to ‘Tiptoe Through the Tulips.’
Witch Gothel well played by Kate Gledhill, was nastiness on a stick, finally getting her comeuppance by shrivelling away altogether, leaving just her cloak. This was cleverly managed with lighting and a quick sidestep into the wings. Helen Emptage as Rapunzel added character and strength to the role and she and Prince Frederick’s ‘True Colours’ duet was a triumph. Casey Roser, beautiful as Fairy Flora, used her clear soothing voice to spread tranquillity over proceedings.
Sally Hannam as Frankie the Prince’s valet had the children enthusiastically answering ‘hi Frankie,’ to her ‘hi kids.’ Prince Frederick’s body language and expressions portrayed a comic vanity which tickled the audience – especially when he took a selfie. Both demonstrated a great rapport and characterised their parts well. Gracie, Macie and Lacie added droll humour to various scenes including one where Prince Frederick was chased by the paparazzi into the aisles creating an exciting immersive atmosphere.
Authoritarian king Geoffrey played by Jack Charlton Nevitt, managed the role with a maturity that bellied his fourteen years. He was well matched with Karleen Stevens as stately but doting prince-mother, Queen Gertrude.
The Ashdown Pantomimers should pat themselves and each other on the back for a this chirpy, inventive, audience encompassing, pantomime”
A message from the Rapunzel Cast
“Thank you to everyone who came to see our production of Rapunzel.
After a shaky start at rehearsals with illnesses and injuries, as always, it came together in the end!
The Sunday matinee introduced this year was great success so we will be continuing it again this year.
A special thanks to our back stage people, Dan and Laura and all our other helpers at the bar/set construction
Thanks again to our lovely audiences. We couldn’t do it without you.
Please keep coming and cheering (and booing). We all love doing this and hope you enjoy it too.”
Leah joined the panto when she was 13 years old and one of her first performances was as Bossy – a dwarf in Snow White. She has been in the chorus for Miss Muffet, the Ice queen and played Saucy Gertrude in Little Red Riding Hood trying to win the attention of the stiff manservant, Sternum, played by Nicole de Barra. As well as being the Town Crier in Cinderella, Leah joined Alex as one of the fairies in Sleeping Beauty, playing the (not so) Fairy Graceful. Outside of panto, Leah is a member of the western re-enactment Spearfish Creek Group.
Rapunzel will be Alex’s 10th panto performance as she joined the Ashdown Pantomimers when she was 9 years old when she played a cat in Humpty Dumpty! She has played the lead role in Miss Muffet which saw her being scared by a spider (a prince under a spell) and shipwrecked to a Caribbean island. Other roles include Rosie, in Babes in the Woods and Baby Spice in Cinderella as well as numerous chorus roles. Last year Alex played Fairy Beautiful, as part of a fairy foursome in Sleeping Beauty, battling with their spells against the wicked fairy and her cat. Last year Alex also persuaded her fiancé James to join the group. A much needed male addition.
Grace has been a part of Ashdown pantomimers since she was 11 years old making Rapunzel her 8th panto. In that time she has been a part of the chorus and has played the prince in two pantos including The Captain in Little Miss Muffet and Prince Orlando in Sleeping Beauty where she played opposite her younger sister who was playing Sleeping Beauty! Panto is a family affair for Grace as , not only is her sister Annie in panto but little brother Jack too. Grace has a great singing voice and has led the chorus in various songs, including Candyman and the Time Warp, in Cinderella, where we had the whole audience singing along.
WHO CAN JOIN?
Anyone aged between 12 and infinity.
DO I HAVE TO BE ABLE TO ACT DANCE OR SING?
It helps if you want main part! But we encourage participants for the chorus where a bit of singing and may be a bit of movement is required. We also welcome people who can help with costumes, backstage, props and set painting. For performance week we also like help with front of house and serving at the bar.
DO YOU CHARGE A MEMBERSHIP FEE?
To cover the cost of insurance subscriptions for the season are £8 for under 18 years and £15 for over 18 years.
WHEN DO YOU AUDITION?
Auditions are usually held in the first weeks of September.
WHEN ARE REHEARSALS?
Rehearsals start in October and are on a Wednesday evening between 8pm and 10 pm then in November this extends to Thursday evenings as well. We try to get the younger members of the company away by 9pm whenever possible. After Christmas when we are leading up to the performance there will also be some ad hoc Saturdays and Sundays.
HOW MANY PERFORMANCES DO YOU DO?
We do 5 performances : Thursday and Friday evenings , a matinee and evening performance on Saturday and then, an early 11.30am performance on Sunday.
ON SALE NOW
at the door
for all performances