Once again this year All Souls Dramatic Club have given us another excellent pantomime centred on that well-loved story of Sleeping Beauty. Written and directed by Cliff Gillies, we were treated to a great story, innovative technology, superb singing, acting and comedy with all round good performances from the cast and we were also introduced to a number of wonderful characters. They included Princess Aurora, Sleeping Beauty herself, played by Chloe Hughes who sang and acted beautifully, there were also two younger versions of Aurora in the story who were Baby Aurora played by Olivia Hughes, there were lots Ah’s from the audience when she appeared on stage and young Aurora played very nicely by Robyn- May Wright. Helen Gillies as Prince Michael, Auroras love interest, made an excellent pantomime principal boy who along with Chloe made a very good pantomime central couple. Helen was also complimented very well by Neil Woods as the Prince’s comical articulate servant Turner. Cliff Gillies was as usual very funny and full of energy as Dame Dixie who was helped in his comedy capers by Dixie’s son Jack played by Christine Swash who had a lovely rapport with the audience. The baddie of the story Maleficent was excellently played by Hayley Murray, she had just the right amount of malevolence in her character and she owned the stage which is very important in this type of role, there were plenty of boos from the audience when she came on stage. Maleficent was ably assisted in her wicked ways by two characters namely Lance, Mickey Stewart and Boyle, Vicky Newcombe. There were three good fairies who were all very different in character, they included Fairy Flora – Lucy Brindle who had an outstanding singing voice, Autumn and mother earth Fairy Fauna played by Jen Johnson and Fairy Merryweather- Katie Watkinson who held most of her conversations in song… but sometimes she would sing at the most inopportune moments, all three played and worked very well together. Other important characters were King Albert Syse- Peter Roney, Queen Victoria Syse -Sue Kershaw who were Auroras parents, The Viceroy -Tracy Holmes Smith and King William Watt- John Hardiker who all produced good performances in their roles. The Chorus and dancers all performed their choreography by Katie Watkinson with lots of energy and enthusiasm and also supported the principal cast well, they also produced some interesting different characters of their own. Diction and clarity of words was generally spot on so the story could be followed easily and there was also some excellent singing in this pantomime which was all accompanied by the use of backing tracks which worked very well I should like to say a special well done to all the stage crew and to the technical crew as there was some excellent technical input in this show which included sound and light effects, back projection, pre recordings, film and lots of other great technical features, which must have taken a great deal of thought, planning and hard work and along with the colourful costumes added to the overall experience for the audience to enjoy and the success of the production. Congratulations to everyone involved in bringing this very enjoyable production to the stage and judging by the audience reaction on the night we visited this was another very successful production.
The Champion 2017
All Souls Dramatic Club
The Atkinson, Southport
As brilliant a pantomime as I have seen since All Souls did Peter Pan last year and I have seen quite a few pantomimes over the last 12 months, some mediocre and none as good as this.
Scriptwriter and director Cliff Gillies, bearing a strange resemblance to Dolly Parton in his platinum blond wig, once again stole the show as Dame Dixie without hogging the limelight and achieving an immediate rapport with the audience. His interplay with the other characters kept the show moving at a fast pace and there were lots of topical and local references in the script to engage the audience plus lots of quick-fire double entendre gags that had both children and adults laughing for different reasons.
With no less than 21 popular songs, all of which were faithfully listed in the programme, this was almost a musical in itself but, crucially, we never lost sight of the fact that it was a pantomime. Thus the story of Sleeping Beauty was faithfully told right to the end with an impressive ‘slaying the dragon’ scene that had all the children shouting encouragement, followed by the Wedding with the full cast onstage for a rousing finale to the music of the classic Solomon Burke song, later made famous by The Blues Brothers, Everybody Needs Somebody.
Olivia Hughes made a most impressive early start to her stage career as tiny Baby Aurora, who turned into Robyn-May Wright as the child Aurora until finally becoming Sleeping Beauty, Chloe Hughes, who woke up from her sleep to marry Prince Michael (Helen Gillies).
Katie Watkinson, Lucy Brindle and Jen Johnson were the good Fairies. Hayley Murray played the menacing Fairy Maleficent with Mickey Stewart and Vicky Newcombe as her sidekicks, Lance and Boyle.
Peter Roney and Sue Kershaw were the King and Queen Syse with John Hardiker as King Watt (What? Yes, Watt). Christine Swash made a lively Jack; Tracey Holmes-Smith was Viceroy and Neil Woods played the hapless Turner.
Technically, the film, video and light effects were of a truly professional standard with all the marks of a West End production with a sound system that would have filled the Echo Arena. And the idea of introducing the actors on screen at the start was an inspired one.
A great troupe of dancers in an ever-changing and dazzling array of costumes was joined by children from Dance Flava showing what promising talent there is among the young people.
Another great success for All Souls, keeping up their proud tradition.
Star rating: 9 out of 10. Everything a panto should be.
Peter Pan – The Atkinson – January 2016
Snow White – The Atkinson – January 2015
All Souls Dramatic Club, Snow White
Directed by Cliff Gillies. Choreography by Karen Parkinson 8/01/15
This outstanding pantomime from All Souls Dramatic Club was written and directed by the very talented Cliff Gillies, who also found the time and energy to play a very funny Dame Norah Bone. Cliff wrote a script combined with lots of current topics, innuendoes and word play and there was plenty of booing, hissing and cheering from the audience which is key to a successful pantomime.
There were some outstanding performances from the cast working well as a team with some excellent singing and original characterisations and no weak links, they all appeared to be enjoying themselves immensely. Chloe Hughes as Snow White and Hayley Murray as the Prince Rupert both sang and acted together superbly making a very good pantomime couple and Katie Watkinson as Muddles had a lovely rapport with the audience. Other good performances were given by Mark Haygarth as the King, Jenny Roby as Dogsbody, Pete Roney as Woody the Woodcutter and Mickey Stewart as a very funny Sebastian Posh. The Dwarfs played by Roy Gardner, Ana Woodward, Tracey Holmes- Smith, Vicky Newcombe, Emily Rose Farrington, Kelly Andersen, and Sue Hardiker, worked well together playing very different characters, and they brought some enjoyable comedy to the stage.
The inclusion of some excellent technical wizardry was used to very good effect in this production and resulted in an innovative Mary the Magical Mirror played very well by Kristina Cunningham both in her pre-recorded and live performances she also had a lovely singing voice.
Technology was also used again with good effect when the wicked Queen Lucretia played villainously by Helen Gillies sang the popular song “Let it Go” from Frozen, which fitted in well with the storyline. As the Queen sang snow fell on the stage and along with lighting and smoke effects she appeared to be casting a freezing spell over the country, which made a good climactic end to the first act. Another effect the children loved was an explosion of streamers which caused lots of excitement as they covered the audience in the second act.
Choreography by Karen Parkinson was excellent and well executed by all the cast and chorus who worked very hard supporting the principle cast performing with lots of energy and enthusiasm.There was also a very good selection of songs accompanied by backing tracks that were well known to all age groups of the audience.Well done to Katie Watkinson for the musical and vocal arrangements and Hayley Murray as the vocal coach.
The sets, lighting and sound were excellent and costumes were very colourful and just right for the production, well done to the hardworking technical crew, and all members of the stage crew.
Congratulations must go to Director Cliff Gillies, Production Manager Matthew Hughes and Assistant Director Katie Watkinson for an outstanding production and well done to everyone involved in this pantomime and thank you for making me welcome I hope to see you again for your next production thank you.
Review: Snow White raises smiles on dark January evening
Jan 09, 2015
By Sophie McCoid. SOUTHPORT VISITER
January can be a very gloomy month, but the All Souls Dramatic Club’s performance of Snow White is sure to brighten your day. I am a great lover of panto and was excited by the prospect of seeing this year’s offering, after being impressed with the company’s last effort- Cinderella. The show opened with a projected video introducing the tale, which was an impressive special effect.
Mary the Magical Mirror’s video appearances throughout the show were similarly impressive and blended well with the action taking place on stage. The whole cast put in stellar performances with stunning vocals from Hayley Murray (Prince Rupert) and Helen Gillies (Queen Lucretia) in particular.
The tale follows the traditional Snow White narrative with the seven dwarves providing comic relief throughout the production with witty jokes and innuendos. Kelly Anderson as dwarf Tiny was the stand-out star of the show, as she enthusiastically leapt about the stage, interacting with other characters and the audience.
Prince Rupert’s right-hand man Sebastian Posh (Mickey Stewart) also had the audience in fits of laughter with his upper class drawl that wouldn’t be out of place on Made in Chelsea.
The songs performed throughout the show were well chosen hits. Let it Go at the end of Act One was a particular highlight for me and the audience as the evil queen put an original spin on 2014’s most memorable song.
Director Cliff Gillies should be proud of his show, which is filled with original dialogue that kept me and the audience laughing all night.
Cliff also takes up the role of Dame Norah Bone, a part he plays exceptionally well, especially in the scenes where he attempts to seduce Woody the Woodcutter.
The All Souls company have done it again, a great family show sure to blow away those winter blues.
Snow White – All Souls Dramatic Club
The Atkinson – 8 to 11 and January 16 to 18 2015
By Jenny Robson, THE CHAMPION
MIRROR, mirror on the wall … and what a wonderful mirror it is that appears in this vibrant family pantomime written and directed by Cliff Gillies who captures the vast energy of the cast in every scene.
It is Snow White’s birthday; guests are arriving with presents and the stage is bright with impressive costumes and colourful characters. In a break with tradition the dwarfs are named Willow, Digit, Noah, Walt, Disley, Tiny and Brains.
The King (Mark Haygarth) is married to Queen Lucretia (Helen Gillies) who tries to have Snow White killed. When her plan fails she disguises herself and gives SW a poisoned apple. Chloe Hughes is perfect as Snow White who falls in love with Prince Rupert (Hayley Murray).
Muddles (Katie Watkinson) and Dame Norah Bone (Cliff Gillies) handle the comedy exceptionally well and it is great to hear the audience joining in with all the traditional shouts.
Up-to-date references are scattered throughout making this a panto to appeal to today’s youngsters. Facebook, selfies, hashtags and broadband have all crept into the script – and even one of the latest words to find its way into the Oxford Dictionary -AMAZEBALLS!
Rousing song and dance routines are expertly choreographed and the sound and lighting technicians are to be congratulated on their skill in providing the exciting atmosphere . There is plenty of movement and the story moves along at a cracking pace.
The wedding scene is a riot of red, gold and white as the whole cast sings Sing followed by I’m a Believer – such a jolly way to end a great show!
Oh yes – and to get back to Mary the Magical Mirror – Kristina Cunningham is lovely as the face in the ingenious mirror … the best I’ve seen! There’s still time to buy tickets from the Box Office.
Cinderella – The Atkinson – January 2014
Jan 16 2014 by Sophie McCoid, Southport Visiter
WHEN the magic of Christmas fades into a cold New Year it can leave you feeling a little miserable, but January also brings the All Souls pantomime, which is sure to put a smile back on your face. After a much acclaimed performance of Aladdin last year producers were worried this year’s offering Cinderella wouldn’t measure up. They were wrong. Cinderella is packed full of stellar performances from a very talented cast. The show gets under way with the appearance of the evil Lady Cruella Hardup and her minions, who begin to plot Cinderella’s demise. Jessica Lowrie plays the evil queen brilliantly, revelling in the inevitable boos and hisses that come her way. Her two hapless assistants, Scratchy and Butts, played by Tracey Holmes-Smith and Vicky Newcombe respectively, also provide excellent performances. The audience is then introduced to the village of Spellfall where times are hard due to the hefty taxes the villagers are forced to pay to fund Prince Charming’s lavish parties. The villagers perform several songs – including the catchy Live While We’re Young and Hey Mickey – that showcase the vocal talents of the cast. We also meet Buttons, Cinderella’s lifelong friend, who also happens to be in love with her. Sophie Parkes plays the friendly servant, clearly relishing her role, and went down especially well with the younger members of the audience. The villagers aren’t blue for long when they are invited to Prince Charming’s 19th birthday party, at which he must find a wife. Prince Charming wants adventure though and swaps places with his servant, Dandini, so he can experience life as a normal person; during this adventure he meets Cinderella and falls in love. The rest of the tale runs as you’d expect but with some added surprises. All of the cast impressed me with their performances but for me the ugly sisters stole the show with their witty dialogue and interaction with the audience. Cliff Gillies and Hayley Murray, who play Claudia and Davina, had me and most of the audience laughing away with their saucy antics in their attempt to woo the prince away from Cinderella. When the pair performed the classic I Know Him So Well it was a truly memorable moment that illustrated the duo’s vocal talent. Cinderella is sure to brighten any winter’s day.
This Production of Cinderella was a mixture of some of the traditional elements of pantomime along with the more modern developments which have been seen over the past few years. It was both written and directed by the talented Cliff Gillies who also found the time to undertake the role of one of the ugly sisters. This production was very musically based with an eclectic mix of musical numbers, which were nicely arranged with many clever changes to the lyrics to fit the story. The musical numbers were performed well by all the singers and the harmonies in ‘I will Follow Him’ were especially enjoyable. Well done to Hayley Murray who did a splendid job as Vocal Coach and who also managed to find the time to play the other ugly sister along with Cliff. There was a mixture of live music performed well by the small band led by Musical Director Callum Williams and backing tracks with some selected musical arrangements by Chris Seery It would be difficult to highlight specific performance as all involved were very talented and performed with lots of energy and enthusiasm, all the cast of Principals and supporting characters were the well cast and suited their roles very well. They were led by Katie Watkinson who not only played Prince Michael Charming but was also the Dance Captain and Cinderella who was played by Chloe Hughes. There were a number of nice comedy moments in this production that were well played with good comic timing, however more of these nice moments would have been welcome. Choreography by Karen Hall was lively, fitted well into the production and was undertaken energetically by all members of the cast from children to adults. The Set was minimalist and not many props were used however this appeared to work successfully. The sound (Matt Hughes) and lighting (David Williams) was very, very good, with some nice effects which complimented the production well. Congratulations all round to Stage Manager Alan Gosling and all the stage crew for a job well done. Also Chris Watkinson and the team must have put a great deal of thought into the Costumes which were very eye catching, colourful, and suited the roles well. Congratulations to the whole company, back stage and front of house for an enjoyable evening and thank you for inviting me and making me welcome, I hope to see you all again soon.
THE CHAMPION NEWSPAPER.
All Souls panto loud and lively by Ron Ellis, Champion Newspapers
ALL Souls were back at their spiritual home after a break of four years and the action onstage hit you from the start. A voice thundered round the auditorium instructing everyone in the audience to stand up, dance about, clap their hands and sing along. Nobody dared to disobey and the panto was off to a whirlwind start. The music was bang up to date. Backing tracks, under the auspices of MD Callum Williams, boomed out of the speakers as members of the cast sang along to songs made famous by Lady GaGa, Olly Murs, One Direction, etc. The costumes were colourful and exotic to match Karen Hall’s varied dance routines, many of which featured young dancers from the Chris Wright School of Dance and Drama. Chloe Hughes made a sweet Cinderella and Katie Watkinson a commanding Prince Michael Charming. Peter Roney, in his 13th panto for the company, was obviously having the time of his life playing King Charles with Sue Kershaw as his wife, appropriately named Queen Camilla. Cliff Gillies and Hayley Murray turned out to be a surprisingly good double act as the Ugly Sisters. I don’t recall ever seeing a man and a woman together in these roles before but it worked well here. Hayley had a great singing voice and, for me, the highlight of the evening was their hilarious rendition of I Will Follow Him. Jessica Lowrie was a scary Lady Cruella Hardup, with John Hardiker her henpecked husband, the Baron. Sophie Parkes was exuberant as Buttons and Helen Gillies a nice foil to the Prince as Dandini. We didn’t see much of Cinderella performing her household tasks and some of the scene changes were a little slow but the audience joined in with gusto throughout the show, booing and shouting, and that is what pantos are all about Star Rating 8 out of 10. Loud and lively.
I’m thinking about the version of Cinderella that I saw with Pete last night at Southport’s old Art Centre, newly refurbished and re-named The Atkinson. Wow, where do I begin to tell the story of the what was, quite simply, the very best pantomime I’ve ever seen. . .ever? And I’ve seen a few in my time, and played a humble part and one or five over the years going way back to my youth. The script I’ll have to start there because everything starts with the writing doesn’t it? Cliff Gillies you are a genius, and most importantly for a pantomime writer, you are a comic genius! All Souls is so lucky to have you. Southport is lucky to have you, and Cliff the wider world is waiting!!! That’s not enough, really Cliff, I could say much but I do need to spread the praise. When the curtains closed to mark half time, I felt sad. How on earth were you going to top THAT in the second half? I’m chuckling to myself writing this as I remember all the treats you still had in store for us. Don’t panic, my lips are sealed until after Sunday afternoon. Your loyal cast have kept the secrets since rehearsals started back in the sultry days of summer, and I wouldn’t want to spoil anything for anyone. How lucky am I that I’m going again on Sunday with all the family? Smug or what? The cast were superb. Hard to pick out a favourite this year and anyway knowing so many of you that wouldn’t be fair. The humour was tremendous, I’ve never seen better – hang on haven’t I already said that? It was true though, so true and everyone and I mean everyone was saying just how funny it was. The other outstanding element this year was the singing. You could feel the audience was a little tense at the beginning, but as each new member took centre stage we relaxed a little more. And with each number you ALL upped your game. There were some breath taking performances, so professional guys, truly, excellent. So what’s left to say? I shouldn’t ever ask myself that really, as I’ve always got more to say. So perhaps I’ll leave it now until Sunday. Then I can tell the world what they’ve missed. Oh I don’t what to end with that, it sounds so sad. A rallying cry then, yes that would be better? If there is anyone out there, anywhere remotely near Southport this weekend, get yourself to The Atkinson. Box Office number 01704 533 333! You honestly, truly won’t regret it!!!!!
Review: Aladdin by All Souls Dramatic Club, The Champion Runs until January 20, Review by Jenny RobsonNo – the panto season is not over! Oh no it isn’t! The seasonal excitement was only beginning last weekend as All Souls Dramatic Club opened their rollicking production of Aladdin.This is a jolly good family show with lots of oomph and razzmatazz. The cast sparkle as they frolic through their roles with happy faces (all except the dreaded Abanazar of course) resulting in a happy audience eager to join in the singing and dancing when invited.Katie Watkinson (Aladdin) and Jessica Lowrie (Wishee Washee) shine as they take us to the land of make-believe with the help of Hayley Murray (Spirit of the Ring).Widow Twankey (Cliff Gillies) is thrilled when Princess Domino (Chloe Merone) falls for Aladdin but evil Abanazar (Neil Woods) has designs on the girl himself ably assisted by his two stooges – Whoo (Chris Seery) and Wen (Tracey Holmes-Smith).Genie of the Lamp (John Hardiker) flies to the rescue and it looks like Aladdin and Domino will marry. There is a highly colourful fluorescent scene with special effects in the cave to close the first half. A joy to watch!Snow White, Peter Pan and Prince Charming make surprise visits in Act 2 as they step from their own fairy tales to join in the fun.Hanki Panki (Helen Gillies) and Jiggeri Pokeri (Sophie Parkes) make two good comic policemen and all turns out well. Well, we knew it would! Sultan Watt (Pete Roney) consents to the marriage resulting in a beautiful silver and lilac finale with a rousing chorus of Walking on Sunshine. Lovely costumes and scenery, excellent choreography, joyful music and a wealth of talent from the cast, company and backstage crew! All this … and an energetic panda! Score: 4/5 – Fast and witty!
A HUGE congratulations to Hayley Murray and Neil Woods on winning Best supporting actress in a pantomime for Smee and Best Actor in a pantomime for Hook respectively. 🏆🎭 We are so pleased and proud to have also won ‘Best Pantomime’ for the THIRD year running!!!!!! Well done all🎉🍾🌃