Ian’s Blog … for musings on all things Panto!

32 thoughts on “Ian’s Blog … for musings on all things Panto!

  • ian noble

    It’s that time of year again and the biggest entertainment events on the calendar are getting underway, the X-Factor, Strictly and now rehearsals for St Andrews 2015 Pantomime. The cast and crew have been brought back together at very little expense from their various summer activities. It took a while to locate them all but eventually one of us was found working as a bouncer at the local nursery, another was life coach to Charlie Sheen and yet another was found volunteering as a taste tester with Whiskas. The rest were located behind the bins, hanging around bus shelters and wandering around the park shouting at the pigeons (who rarely answer).
    As you will probably know by now this year we are producing Puss in Boots (unless you were so eager to get to this page that you rushed straight here and didn’t read the front page – and no one would blame you if you did). Puss in Boots is a classic pantomime story, but surprisingly this will be the first time we have put it on at St Andrews.
    After adapting and re-writing our old Red Riding Hood script for last years panto I was really keen to work on a script from scratch. Therefore this year the script is brand new and never been seen before. I started the writing process back in March by just putting together a few ideas and characters, and then working on it intermittantly over the following months filling out the story whilst meeting with the esteemed directer/producer Loz (not short for lozenge) Pape to keep me on the straight and narrow and to cut the dirtier jokes.
    And now we’re here meeting up every week to sing, dance and act about in an attempt to put the show together, and I’ll be recording everything on these pages. See you all soon (so make sure you draw the curtains at night)

  • ian noble

    I have powerful vocal cords capeable of opening the gates of Hades and raising the gods from their slumber. Thor himself shudders on his throne of skulls at the reverberating sound of my voice. So why did Siobhan (she who must be obeyed) tell me to be quiet on stage because during rehearsals she could hear me shouting clearly from the back room through two closed doors. I don’t get it, and the fact that I couldn’t speak due to being hoarse for the next two days was merely a coincidence. Ogres are meant to be shouty aren’t they?

  • ian noble

    It’s a little known fact that Barbara Windsor only appeared in 9 of the 31 ‘Carry On’ films and it occurs to me that Puss in Boots will be my 9th St Andrews Pantomime. And you know, in many ways, that makes me the Barbara Windsor of our group. That started me thinking who would be the Sid James or the Kenneth Williams or the Hattie Jacques of the group. I know who I think they would be but perhaps I’ll leave it to the reader to think of their own.

    • Group Login

      Can’t believe it’s 9 years since you were PC Sweetee! I feel so responsible for brining you into the fold! 😉
      Jayne: Hopefully not the Hattie Jacques of the group!!

  • ian noble

    I haven’t been able to log onto the site for a couple of days so I’ve not been able to talk about last weeks rehearsals and it’s been burning up inside me (or was that just a reaction to Saturday nights rissoles created by ‘she who must be obeyed’). Firstly, we have now been measured for costumes (well some of us have, those that haven’t been measured already will presumeably be performing naked, causing the kind of uproar not seen since 1968’s Broadway production of ‘Hair’. Although that would be a guarentee of getting cheeks on chairs every night).
    The furore around “what am I going to be wearing this year” is always fun to watch. Personally I’m not bothered as long as it fits, most years my trousers need pinning up so they don’t slip off (another ticket selling idea?).
    Secondly, I was blindsided by the fact that I was expected to co-choreograph my first dance along with my minions. Let me make it very clear right now that I have moves that the best dancers in the world can only wish they could emulate. I am an artiste and my body is my tool. Unfortunately society has yet to advance to a point where my tool can be appreciated by the masses and yet the dream remains that one day my tool will be seen all around the world. But enough of that, we were shuffled off to a back room with blank expressions and left to try and think of somthing that we could do whilst singing ‘Bad Guys’. It took half an hour of intense thought but finally we came up with something that when we played it back filled just under half of the song. I would like to say that it is very much a collaborative piece created jointly with my minions (Aimee & Hannah) but to be honest if people like it I WILL claim all the credit.

    • Group Login

      I do like to challenge the cast & keep them busy! What Aimee, Hannah and Ian put together in that hour was brilliant. It was a proper Panto dance for the baddies – filled with fun, laughs & cool characters. I can’t wait to see how you finish it.
      On another dancing note Steph & I have now set the Finale number and I can’t wait to share it with the group! Roll on rehearsals!
      Loz (hopefully not the Sid James of the group!) X

  • ian noble

    So, I missed rehearsals on Thursday. I don’t know if I can show my face this week because there aren’t very many rehearsals between now and opening night and especially as we have to have scripts down in only a very short time. I expect a very hard stare from Loz.
    My capacity for learning lines is about as good as my ability to make clockwise circles with my leg at the same time as drawing a number 6 (try it, your leg will be desperate to start going anti-clockwise). I know that most reading this will think that I’m so cool that if I drank boiling water I’d sweat ice cubes but the truth is that I’m boiling up inside when it comes to remembering what I’m supposed to be saying and when I’m supposed to be saying it. As many will know, a script to me is more of a guideline than something to recount word perfectly which can lead to some hairy moments for fellow cast members I’m sure.
    I haven’t been totally Panto-idle this last week though, I’ve been adding photographs and scans of programmes to the ‘Past Productions’ page. Go there now, I’ll wait.

  • ian noble

    OK. Did you go there? To the ‘Past Productions’ page on the site I mean. If you did then you will have found that if you click on the various productions you will get scans of past programmes and photographs of productions, rehearsals and back stage from that year. Most of these are either from my own collection or from facebook etc. and if anyone has any photographs or programmes etc that they can let me have I can put them up on the site for all to see. It will be like travelling in time just like my super-hero alter ego Timehawk, flying backwards and forwards in time to solve crimes and watch shows in his spare time.

  • Simon Forster Post author

    I have been away for a long weekend and on the drive home from a very rainy Northumbria My mind was consumed by thoughts of wonder as to whether some technological genius had figured out how to link the list of past productions to an archive of photos etc from that particular show. Unfortunately such a technological genius couldn’t be found but lo and behold young Mr Noble had gone and done that very thing. Well done that man …
    Simon (the Jack Douglas of the Group!)

  • ian noble

    Another rehearsal and another step closer to showtime. It felt so good to be able to get the finale underway, a great song and some new moves to learn. I couldn’t be happier, especially as throughout it all I was sat at the back watching the smooth moves on stage, I knew being the villain had it’s advantages. And now I’m happy, Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof, by the way how does a room without a roof feel? How will the audience know if they should clap along if they don’t know if they feel the appropriate emotion. According to ‘She who must be obeyed’ when I asked her, a room without a roof feels like “shut up and stop bothering me”. Step together, spin around, form a ‘V’, thumbs to the side. It’s amazing how simple it looks when you’re not in the middle of it, as I’m sure Simon, Bill and the two Andrews will testify, it’s wrong to expect all those young cast members with formal dance training to have to keep up with them.
    Another high point was reading in as Glenda Miller. I think that I brought a certain allure to the role that I hadn’t noticed before. Glenda is a lot deeper than I realised, she’s a seething ball of emotion that I will look at very differently from now on after being priviledged enough to inhabit her character for just a brief moment.
    And finally, my big duet with the Princess was properly practised. There are moves, comedy, alternating lines it’s gonna look acceptable. Unfortunately the only thing I can remember now is Beth miming my lines back at me. It’s very hard to remain in angry character mode when it looks like your voice is coming out of someone elses mouth.

  • ian noble

    IT’S QUIZ TIME! please don’t stop reading yet.
    The following is a short quiz just for fun about SAPG and pantomime in general. The answers will follow in a couple of days:
    1 – Which popular panto is known as ‘Aschenputtel’ in German?
    A-Aladdin, B-Cinderella, C-Snow White, D-Little Miss Muffet
    2 – Which Panto has been produced by SAPG more than any other?
    A-Aladdin, B-Cinderella, C-Jack and the Beanstalk, D-Dick Whittington
    3 – The real life Dick Whittington first became Lord Mayor of London in which year?
    A-1397, B-1497, C-1697, D-1797
    4 – How long is the average time between Panto stories produced by SAPG?
    A-6 years, B-9 years, C-11 years, D-13 years
    5 – Which Panto story appears as one of the tales in the “Book of One Thousand and One Nights”?
    A-Red Riding Hood, B-Humpty Dumpty, C-Sleeping Beauty, D-Aladdin
    6 – Which of these Panto stories has been produced more than once by SAPG?
    A-Beauty and the Beast, B-Little Miss Muffet, C-Sinbad’s Great Adventure, D-Mother Goose
    7 – Which Panto has been adapted into an opera by Philip Glass in 1994?
    A-Cinderella, B-Beauty and the Beast, C-Aladdin, D-Little Miss Muffet
    8 – Which Panto character first appeared in 1861 and is named after a cheap blend of green tea?
    A-Buttons, B-Baron Hardup, C-Wishee Washee, D-Widow Twankey
    9 – In which year did our current Dame Bill Taylor first don a dress (in the name of Panto that is)?
    A-1994, B-1999, C-2003, D-2006
    10 – Which Panto was the first ever to be produced in America in 1786?
    A-Miss Muffet, B-Robinson Crusoe, C-Mother Goose, D-Humpty Dumpty
    11 – Which character has been described as “the Pantomime equivalent of playing Hamlet”, and combining “comedy and pathos in equal measure”?
    A-Mother Goose, B-Dame Trott, C-Widow Twankey, D-Buttons
    12 – What has been the longest period between particular SAPG Panto productions?
    A-12 years, B-15 years, C-17 years, D-20 years
    13 – In the novel on which the Panto Robinson Crusoe is based where is Robinson Crusoe from?
    A-London, B-Liverpool, C-York, D-Plymouth
    14 – The giants cry of “Fee, Fie, Fo, Fum I smell the blood of an Englishman” from Jack and the Beanstalk originally appeared in which Shakespeare play?
    A-Macbeth, B-A Midsummers Nights Dream, C-Othello, D-King Lear
    15 – Including ‘Puss in Boots’ how many different Panto stories have been portrayed in SAPG productions?
    A-15 stories, B-9 stories, C-12 stories, D-20 stories
    16 – The first ever British Panto is generally accepted to have been “Tavern Bilkers” performed at Drury Lane in which year?
    A-1682, B-1702, C-1732, 1752

  • ian noble

    OK it’s answer time. The buzz of speculation has been almost deafening and now finally sweet resolution.
    1 – B-Cinderella.
    2 – B-Cinderella (very original having the first two answers the same).
    3 – A-1397, He was appointed by King Richard II (the king who was eventually killed in Pontefract Castle) when the previous Lord Mayor died.
    4 – C-11 years
    5 – D-Aladdin
    6 – D-Mother Goose, although we’ve only done it twice and the last time was in 1991.
    7 – B-Beauty and the Beast, this was mentioned in the programme notes the year we did it. Don’t you remember anything.
    8 – D-Widow Twankey, It was a blend of cheap ragged open leaf tea called “Twankay” implying that she was past her best. Up to this point the Dame in Aladdin was usually Ching Mustapha.
    9 – C-2003, in that years production of Cinderella. Again this was in the programme, you really should pick one up.
    10 – B-Robinson Crusoe, shown in New York only 10 years after gaining independance.
    11 – A-Mother Goose, as described by national Panto regular Nigel Ellacott on his website “It’s behind you”.
    12 – D-20 years, between productions of Snow White 1988 and 2008. Although if we ever do either Mother Goose or Little Miss Muffet in the future they will take the record as it has already been 23 years and 22 years respectively since SAPG did either of these.
    13 – C-York, ey up, little Robby Crusoe had a Yorkshire accent.
    14 – D-King Lear, it appears in the form “Fie, foh, and fum, I smell the blood of a British man”
    15 – A-15 stories, I won’t list them, just go to the “Past Productions” page. They’re all listed and there are some great pictures with more to follow.
    16 – B-1702, it involved comic ballet and burlesque and featured no dialogue as the story was presented in motion only, “Oh no it wasn’t”, actually it really was.

  • ian noble

    It had to happen, it was written in the stars. Despite her attempts to avoid it our esteemed director/producer Loz will be appearing in in every performance of this years Panto as Proudlock Miller. Just like many great directers of the past who appear in their own work – Alfred Hitchcock, Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Orson Welles & Eldar Ryazanov (what do you mean you’ve never heard of the 86 year old Russian director, who recieved the USSR “State Prize” in 1977 and was named “Peoples Artist” in 1984. Come on people) she couldn’t manage to stay off the stage. I think from now on it would show her the greatest respect for all of the cast and crew to refer to her only as “Ryazanov” at every opportunity.
    It all goes to show that Panto is an organic process meaning that the end product develops over time from it’s infancy into something magnificent, just like the life cycles of amphibians that I watched in a recent David Attenborough show. Newts are incredible creatures as was eloquently summed up by She Who Must Be Obeyed when she turned to me and said “Nature eh, you couldn’t make it up!”. And yet here we are, better than nature cos we’re making it up as we go along (I hope I haven’t destroyed anyones illusion that the tale of Puss In Boots is a true story of a poor cats struggle to make it in the world).
    There are also two other late additions to the cast we have tracked down and tricked with mirrors and shiny things to rejoin us. Ex-Wolf Christine was warmly welcomed back into the fold during the last rehearsals, and Rebecca, despite losing her sheep last year (she still thinks it was real, proving that “unhinged” doesn’t always refer to doors). And she thought she was safe moving to the legendary lost city of Lincoln, Pah! Anyway I’m off now for an evening of cocktails, dancing about and general extravagance at the Hotsy Totsy Club, if you see me I’ll have a mojito.

  • ian noble

    I was at a loose end earlier so I decided to nip out into PANTOLAND for couple of bits. Nothing special, just a magic carpet, a magic lamp, a magic cabbage, magic sausages and some magic loo roll (everything in PANTOLAND is magic – except for Harry Potter who runs a small DIY stall on the market, although he does have a special offer on hanging baskets this week, so that’s pretty magic I suppose).
    Whilst out I picked up a copy of the PANTO PRESS and saw the headline referring to this years panto story Puss In Boots. It said “Mystery Conman Lures Princess into Marrying Homeless Man!” which seemed a little biased against our hero. As I flicked through the paper I saw a few other headlines and thought I’d share them here with you, I wonder if the stories they refer to are obvious.
    MONARCHY MADNESS – Royal Family to Choose Next Queen Based on Shoe Size!
    DICKIE NO-MATES – London Mayoral Candidate Admits Best Friend is His Cat!
    SNOW JOKE – Runaway Princess Found Shacked up in Woods with Seven Men!
    EDUCATION CRISIS – Kids today can’t tell the difference between elderly family and wild canines!
    WHAT’S HE ON – Local Man Claims to See a Giant Man Living in Clouds After Receiving “Magic Beans” from a stranger!
    It just goes to show that journalists can’t be trusted wherever you live, unless you’re a journalist thinking of doing a story on us in which case may I personally welcome you from the bottom of my heart.

  • Simon Forster Post author

    Never quite sure whether giving Ian his own blog was a masterstoke of genius or the biggest mistake of my life! Maybe “she who must be obeyed’ has a more objective view on this matter? 🙂

  • ian noble

    Lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, lines.
    Guess what I’ve been doing this week, especially after Thursday’s rehearsal and seeing how many of us are already going without scripts (it’s great if you can put your script down early even if everyone knows that a swot gets picked last for the team).
    And another thing, the banner has gone up on the outside of the church advertising our amazing upcoming show and was ably attached to the wall, with help, by me…so if anyone in the area finds a large canvas Puss in Boots banner blowing around their garden in the next few weeks please return to St Andrews Community hall, and pick up a few tickets whilst you’re there.

  • ian noble

    For those that haven’t seen me (I’m like a shadow in the corner of the room or a whisper on the wind. Always there but never seen) I’ve been growing a beard for my villainous part this year, as I am being the villain for the first time I felt I had to. Well it’s partly for the role and partly because it winds up “She Who Must Be Obeyed” no end, especially when I stroke it lovingly and feed it shortbread fingers like a little pet Aye Aye crouching on my face (it’s a real creature, look it up). Don’t worry I shall be paying heavily for my wanton chin tickler. At the moment it’s somewhere between Timothy Claypole (RENTAGHOST! the second best television show of all time after The Goodies) and Rasputin. Back to RENTAGHOST for a brief second. If you decide to look it up on You Tube, and you really should, stick to the first couple of series it went downhill very quickly after Mr Mumford left.
    I think the evil partnership is shaping up nicely with Aimee – AKA Grumio and Hannah – AKA Donkey from Shrek (I’ll probably pay for those pseudonyms at next rehearsals). But all the partnerships are also looking good. Dirk, Ricky and Mickey are more comical than I had hoped, the Millers are the dysfunctional family I’d envisioned and the Royals are great. And finally, I can’t wait to see Kitty and Korky being hilarious again.

  • ian noble

    I thought it was time to flesh out some of this years panto characters as a bit of a preview for those not in this years show and give cast a bit of background. I’ll add more over the next few days

    KING FELIX – As Felix was born the second son of King Hector the Fifty-First he never expected to become Monarch and lived a youth of joyful abandonment. However, when his elder brother King Hector the Fifty-Second abdicated so he could marry a thrice divorced goat herder, he was thrust kicking and screaming onto the throne. Public office never sat well with him and so, partly from the unexpected stress and partly due to his misspent youth catching up with him, he has suffered a never-ending string of illnesses and ailments (or at least he has convinced himself of such).

    QUEEN GWENDOLYN – The youngest daughter of Baron Brainfreeze who had made his fortune in the cryogenics game. She met a young Prince Felix at a ball held by his oldest friend Prince Charming. She danced with Felix for a bet and consequently won a pound of mixed offal (the Brainfreeze family ate well that night). However against her better judgement she found herself drawn to him as she couldn’t help rescuing lost causes, and since his ascension to the throne she feels she is the only thing holding him together.

    PRINCESS YOLANDA – The only child of Felix and Gwendolyn and consequently heir to the throne. She has spent the vast majority of her youth being brought up by her nanny Sunflower Dragonwing (her real name was Thora Grungebrackett, of the Connecticut Grungebracketts). She is well versed in Holistic thinking, Ley lines, Aromatherapy and reading crystals so her ascension to the throne will herald a bright new golden era for the kingdom (does sarcasm come across in the written word). Despite this she has inherited all the good points of her mother and Father and if she can scrape the sparkly cotton wool off her eyes she will be a capable monarch one day.

    That’s quite enough for now. Keep reading for profiles of the guards, the millers and the cobblers.

  • ian noble

    Time for a few new profiles. How about the Guards and the cobblers this time around.
    SERGEANT OF THE GUARD, DIRK – A man who has had to fight for everything his whole life, brought up on the mean streets with only his wits to get him by. His parents sold him to a travelling circus aged eighteen months for a packet of Wotsits and a used scratch card. Whilst there he trained hard with the strongman and found he had a natural ability with knife throwing, sword dancing and martial arts so, naturally, at fourteen he left the circus to join the mobile library. He was thrown out after several counts of injuring customers who were late returning books at which point he joined the royal army of Albarosa where he spent decades as a Private before being promoted to his current rank when the rest of the army left due to not being paid for six months.

    ROYAL GUARDS, RICKY & MICKEY – Cousins who left school recently but couldn’t find a job to match their unique skill set. Eventually they joined the Royal Guards together after reading an advert stating “Can you count to ten? Do you know the alphabet? Could you find your own buttocks in the dark with both hands? If so, we want to see you, cos we’re desperate”. They only met two of the criteria between them, but as they were the only applicants Dirk took them on anyway. They have since moved on in leaps and bounds and they can now both proudly recite most of the alphabet and count to at least seven if pushed.

    KITTY COBBLER – Kitty’s mother was frightened by a drunken sailor on shore leave whilst pregnant (which is odd when she lived three hundred miles from the sea), and some say this explains Kitty’s distinctive demeanour. She was brought up in the footwear trade and her resilient attitude to sales is why she is one of the few businesses still operating in Albarosa today. She has seen off twelve husbands (some have sneaked away in the night, some were chased off with carving knives and one became a zoo keeper looking after large and aggressive creatures due to the experience gained looking after Kitty). She is currently on the prowl for lucky husband number thirteen. She says she wants someone “to care for me in my later years when my model-like good looks finally start to fade”. Her eyesight has obviously already gone then.

    KORKY COBBLER – Only son of Kitty, his Father disappeared mysteriously after completing a night school course in zoo administration. He has never forgiven his mother for naming him Korky and to this day he can’t pick up a copy of the Dandy without grimacing (so it’s a good job it’s not on sale anymore then – ask your parents). This may also be one of the reasons he has never been keen on following his mother Kitty into the cobbling business and prefers to see himself making his fortune as an inventor, if he could only hit on that one great idea to make real headlines, like corduroy pillows.

  • ian noble

    Not had enough of the character profiles yet? I can’t hear your shouts for more so I’ll just assume that’s what you’re doing. Here’s a bit of background for the Millers (the family that run the old mill. I know it’s a bit confusing isn’t it).
    DUSTY MILLER – A bit of a local celebrity in his youth after winning the greased pig wrestling world championships three years running (his secret was to hypnotise them using his animal magnetism). He ploughed all his winnings into buying the old mill and making it a success. His whole life he has dreamed of living the high life in the glittering hot spots around the world such as Las Vegas, Monte Carlo and Cleethorpes. And he has saved every penny he can to enjoy an early retirement in one of these with the woman of his dreams, Patricia Routledge, but until the restraining order is lifted he has vowed to stay loyal to his oblivious wife Glenda.

    GLENDA MILLER – She was only a sailor’s daughter but she knew what the poop-deck was for. Her father had got lost on shore leave and ended up three hundred miles from the sea in Albarosa where he was thrown in prison for hassling a local cobbler. Whilst there he fell for the lady prison guard and they settled down and raised their daughter. Glenda met Dusty at the local heats of the greased pig wrestling championships and she instantly fell for the way he man-handled the swine (not swearing) to the ground. They built up their milling business together but recently she has become concerned with the amount of time Dusty spends alone watching repeats of “Keeping Up Appearances”.

    PROUDLOCK MILLER – A boy genius from an early age Proudlock was the apple of his parent’s eyes and they relentlessly spoiled him. He won a scholarship to the Wincey Willis Academy for the super gifted where he developed a taste for the finest things in life, which was unfortunately not matched by his work ethic. He finds everyday concerns bothersome and other people boring. He would much rather spend his day sipping fine wines and shopping for mirrors whilst regarding the world with the quiet disdain of a pre-revolution Louis XVI.

    WILBERFORCE MILLER– Wilberforce has grown up blissfully unencumbered by the concerns of intelligence, maturity or guilt. As the Millers second son they have tried their best to find a vocation for their little boy, Scientist, Lawyer, Accountant but nothing would stick except finger painting, teasing pigeons about their height or poking the Cat with pointy sticks. One day he hopes to succeed as well as his toothless pet budgie.

    TOM MILLER – In west Albarosa born and raised, On the mill was where he spent most of his days, Chillin’out, maxin’ relaxin’ all cool, Shootin some b-ball outside of the school – hang on that’s the Fresh Prince, not Tom Miller. When Tom was born he was a surprise to his parents as Glenda had just thought she had been powerfully constipated for the last nine months. This explains why, on the day Tom was born, Dusty was reluctant to come to the bathroom when Glenda shouted “I’m not constipated anymore, come and look at what I’ve just done”. From that day forward Tom worked hard and helped out around the place, clearing out his cot, making up his own bottles and changing his own nappies. His elder brothers rarely had anything to do with him (mainly due to the smell – he was a baby changing his own nappies after all) and consequently he was a lonely child but a contented one, happy in the knowledge that his family would stand by him through thick and thin (did I forget to mention that he was wildly deluded as well).

    PUSS – What can I say, he’s a cat. Glenda Miller got him as a kitten from a Spanish waiter down on his luck when the only Tapas bar in Albarosa closed (a dark day for the whole Kingdom). The waiter told her that the cats name was Pepito Urbano Silvio Salazar but Glenda couldn’t be bothered with all that so called him Puss for short. Puss enjoyed life catching mice at the mill but had a special affinity with Tom Miller who looked after him and frequently saved Puss from his cruel brothers and their poking sticks. For this Puss always thought, that given the chance, he would do all he could to help out poor Tom.

  • ian noble

    Sunday was the last Panto committee meeting before showtime. It’s a bit like a gathering of the UN or a recall of Parliament in times of national crisis (a crisis on the scale of Doncaster Rovers going down last season – Birmingham City in injury time! It still hurts). Our very own Ban Ki-Moon started us off and before long we were well into it, debating traffic cones, cleaning rotas, putting out and putting away chairs and how to appease the great fish spirit Jabu-Jabu residing under the stage so that this years production isn’t cursed (his greatest achievement is making people believe he doesn’t exist – believe, for all our sakes). The fact is that the show that goes on is just the tiny, sparkly tip of an iceberg of frantic activity that goes on virtually all year. It is for this reason that it should never be forgotten the incredible contribution made by the members of the group who never stand on stage during the finale to take their applause (I still get annoyed when someone else gets a bigger cheer than me during the walkdown, and anyone who says they feel differently is – probably not as petty as me).
    Rehearsals continue to roll along apace and we will soon be doing it twice a week ……………………. Oh, sorry I thought there was going to be a joke there. Anyway, the imminent start of Sunday rehearsals means things just got real. Just like Pinnochio, our Panto must descend into the belly of the whale before being re-born as a real boy.
    But for now, hush Jabu-Jabu your time will come and until that day you must allow us to perform.

  • ian noble

    Quantum physics teaches us that unless something is observed then it doesn’t exist and it is the act of observation that causes things to pop into existence. Thank goodness then, that tickets for Puss in Boots are selling well so far, and as such physics will be on our sides as our show will definitely exist by means of it’s observation. So if you’re thinking of coming along or know someone who is thinking of coming along or think you know of someone who is considering the slightest possibility of being in the area at the right time then you’d better be quick as some shows are already getting low on seats.
    Back to rehearsals, they’re twice a week now as I’m sure you’ve already read or attended (you must have been aware of a great disturbance in the force on Sunday afternoons, as if millions of voices cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced). It really says something about how well everyone is doing when I’m hearing lines on stage that I’ve known for months now and yet I’m finding them funnier than ever. I’m beginning to beleive that everything is going to be amazing this year, not like when She Who Must Be Obeyed tried making Christmas bauble bird feeders (balls of fat with mixed seeds and grains set into them to hang off the tree in the garden on Christmas Eve). As they were Christmas baubles she thought it would be a good idea to put a bit of glitter on the outside, very pretty, very Christmassy. Or at least it was until we woke on Christmas morning and had to pick our way through the littered corpses of robins and sparrows with sparkles around their beaks. With all the glitter and feathers it was like the aftermath of a drag queen battlefield. To this day garden birds give her suspicious glances.

  • ian noble

    It’s alright. I’m not dead or kidnapped or searching the depths of lake Titicaca for the stone pumas of the Apus. I am still here, I’ve just been coming to terms with having to lose some essential elements of our wonderful production so far. I’ll explain, during the last run through we were coming in at about two and a half hours (which works out at 3.33 pence per minute of outstanding entertainment for adults and 2 pence per minute for children). It turns out though that you can have too much of a good thing and we are faced with losing about 20 minutes to bring us down to the average length of our Pantos. We need the judgement of Soloman to decide what stays in and what goes. For anyone who isn’t aware of what is out so far I won’t tease you with the routines and songs that are already on the cutting room floor.
    With a page of dialogue taking about 2 minutes to perform and songs between 2 and 3 minutes each you will have some understanding of what we need to do (10 pages of dialogue or 6-7 songs or a comnbination of both). If this were written on paper you would see the tear drop marks dotting the sad words herein, as it is I’ve got through three keyboards so far (they don’t like it wet). I am literally about to leave for another run through so I will update later with where we stand.

  • ian noble

    Despite the short moments since you read the above it is now a week later. Unfortunately I was called into work as I was arriving at the last rehearsals so missed how things went, however, She Who Must Be Obeyed passed on that we have managed to cut about 10 minutes from the show so far. It’s still not enough but apparently when everyone is more familiar they will speed up and get slicker so hopefully cutting another 10 minutes won’t be needed. Lets wait and see.

  • Loz Pape

    Wow! Thought I would catch up on the wonder & madness of Ian’s blog and turns out I have missed a fair few entries! You have been a busy boy Boris!

    From a directors point of view rehearsals are going well, dances are looking good, tickets are selling & we have cut a bit more time off – what more could a girl want for Christmas?

    Thanks to the cast & crew for all the hard work they have put in…as a result I am even letting them have a break for Xmas (my generosity knows no bounds!)

    Roll on 2015 and another great show from this fab group. X

  • ian noble

    Hope you had a Happy Christmas and also a very good New Year to all. Ooooh the events since last updating you all are myriad and sensational. Firstly, we have managed to get the show down to about 2hrs and 20mins joyous choirs of melodramatic fairies and dames of productions past sang out with relief. Honestly, I was worried that some of the script would have to be cut, and each word is like a tiny wide eyed orphan to me with no where to go but the mean streets where they might get roped into being words in a take-away menu destined to be shoved in the bin as soon as it appears through the door, how could I cut any words knowing that is the destiny awaiting them.
    Secondly, you may have already seen on the home page or even in the papers that the media have been taking notice of us with a lovely story. You’ve missed it going out live as it was in the Boxing Day edition of the Yorkshire Evening Post, but you really should take time to look it up as there is a picture of an incredibly handsome young man about town (with a couple of others who’s names escape me). You can find the story featured either on this website or on the Yorkshire Evening Post website and it has also been shared on Facebook by various cast and crew and also on the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Facebook page (so if you haven’t already seen it I would have to ask the question how you’ve managed to avoid it so far).
    Anyway, onto more current events. Today is the big day of the dress rehearsal, in a very short time we shall be gathering and dressing and rehearsing which raises another problem altogether, how do I become a blue-skinned beast as this years Ogre is supposed to be. You may have noticed from the local press pictures (oh come on you must have seen it by now, stop pretending to be to cool to be bothered) as you found yourself gazing longingly into my eyes unable to pull yourself away, hours must have flown by as if only mere moments as you were held there dreaming of running your fingers through my beard, but among your thoughts of forbidden liaisons you must have noticed I WASN’T BLUE! This is something that has been bothering She Who Must Be Obeyed far more than it has been bothering me as she realised long ago that she would be the one tasked with making me look blue. As she said to me last night whilst practicing my make-up “Why did you write a flipping blue character you dopey flipping flipper” (I’ve edited the actual outburst for reasons of taste and decency “She Who Must Be Obeyed” does a very convincing Gordon Ramsey impression and she was also brought up in a mystical land she refers to only as “Miggy” I think it’s somewhere from Game of Thrones or something). However she came up with something far better than I could ever have wished for and I also hope that it looks good this afternoon. I shall try and get a few pictures today of the dress rehearsals and add them to the website, so keep an eye out for those. To paraphrase the great Kermit T. Frog “It’s time to play the music, It’s time to light the lights, It’s time to meet the cast for Puss in Boots tonight. It’s time to put on make-up, it’s time to dress up right, it’s time to raise the curtain for Puss in Boots tonight” oh Kermit you green, slimy showman how right you are.

  • ian noble

    We’re well underway with shows already. Some said it would never happen (myself not included, I promise), well to them I say hah! look at us now going out show after show getting laughs, cheers and boos in all the right places (and some unexpected places too). This is what it’s all about, getting an immediate response from an audience (well that and raising money for charity I suppose). We’re throwing ourselves into every performance, so much so that we’ve even had a genuine injury. Stay calm please, it’s not as if it was me after all. Poor Aimee suffered a suspected toe break/sprain, fortunately she was able to continue with that nights performance and the next too. She almost exactly lived out the two famous sayings “break a leg” & “the show must go on” (I bet you thought I meant “bite the bullet” & “bury the hatchet”).
    Other things noted from the dressing room this week. Andrew C has been finding himself oddly drawn to the maternity section in Debenhams after seeing how good he looks in his millers smock. Simon has found that he needs to acheive a higher level of meditation if he is to block out the chatter from Latham who has far more info in his head than any normal person could accumulate in just fifteen years. Also “She who must be obeyed” has settled into her other role as Dame Bill Taylor’s dresser. So far as I’m aware she has been sacked twice already for backchat but she always manages to weedle her way back into a job. More inside chat coming up soon.

  • ian noble

    What would happen if the Ogre were to be kidnapped by the Princess? The poor innocent little blue fella would be dragged off by the ravenous drooling royal and held to ransom unable to fight back against her superior cunning and power. At least that would be the version of our story that Georgina was thinking of when she walked on stage on Saturday evening and uttered the immortal line “What! The Ogre has been kidnapped by the Princess?” This was followed by the entire cast (sans Princess, Ogre and minions) entering giggling and helpless. There was nothing that could be done and the audience loved it! Thankfully it was only a short time until the tabs would close and order could be restored, but let the granite stones in Pantoland that record significant events show that on this day for the first time (according to many involved) the whole cast on stage were helplessly corpsing. If only there were an outtake option on the SAPG DVD.
    Also, it seems that being a minion to the Ogre is one of the worlds most dangerous jobs. Right up there with target holder at an archery contest. Yes, yet another minion injury has been recorded and once agin it is from the dance routine to “Bad Guys” which can now claim the title “worlds most dangerous dance routine”. Not only has Aimee suffered toe damage (see earlier) but now Hannah too has almost suffered major head injuries after being bashed into my manly shoulders and then staggering towards the wings before managing to go on with the song (my minions are truely troopers, the only difference between them and stormtroopers are the white armour and blasters).
    What next I hear you ask (you really shouldn’t shout so loudly that I can hear you ask from where I’m sitting right now. Why do you all gather in my garden shouting at my windows), who knows. We’re over halfway through this years run and already talk is turning (like a mile-long oil tanker turning in a narrow alley way behind a small fishing tackle shop) to what could be done next year. Currently the front runners are as follows. “Cindrella 2 – Buttons Strikes Back” a disgruntled servant takes revenge after being left out in the cold when everyone goes off to their happy ever after. “Vernon Kays Great Adventure” a beloved Lancastrian TV presenter finds a new life whilst seeking treasure and fame on the good ship ‘Saucy Sheila’ with a band of rugged game show contestants and a parrot named Persil. Finally, “Die Hard – the Panto” grizelled New York cop John McClane finds himself being held hostage in a tower block by his wicked step-mother only days after selling his Police issue handgun for a handful of beans and uttering the immortal catchphrase “Yippee-ki-yay, stepmother fusser”.

  • ian noble

    I now know what it would be like to exist in a post apocolyptic world, where the discarded accoutrements of civilisation lie scattered hither and thither and the survivors of a long, drawn out conflict wander dazed and confused unable to make sense of what they’ve just witnessed (they’ll never be the same again). At least that’s what it was like when I was on cleaning up duty the other day after Tuesdays show. It’s amazing what’s left behind by audiences; wrappers, drinks, programmes (it still hurts to see one lying under a chair unwanted), whole unopened bags of sweets, jewellery, a scarf, shoes, a glass eye and a pelican (it’s beak can hold more than it’s belly can). I found doing a waltz with the broom helped make it pass more quickly and the hazard protection suit I had to wear was a bit tight, but the ladies appreciated that as always, and before very long the place was shiny and clean and ready for another defiling.
    And now the end is near and so we face the final curtain. Today Puss in Boots shall draw to a close and the veil of memory will shroud the stage once more. Theatrical things shall be tidied away and our worlds will return to normal. I would like to record that this has been another great production and that all involved have once again achieved the impossible of putting on a show to rival professional pantomimes and would like to add that whatever comes next year will have a hard act to follow. I’m sure I’ll have something to say here about our final performance and about tonights after show party and I will be dipping in and out of the blog during the year so keep checking in now and then.

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