The London Olympic Games may still be some way off but seven Ashover residents have already been demonstrating their athletic prowess – and winning gold medals.
They showed their talents during the annual parish pantomime - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – which included a special ‘Dwarf Olympics’ and where, surprisingly, every competitor won first prize.
Writer and director Rosemary Early had to admit that the judges who awarded the gold medals were still ‘not fully trained’ when the curtain went up for the first time and that matters were not helped by the local Town Crier’s interpretation of the Olympic rule book.
But, this being pantomime, nobody in the audience really cared...
This year’s production again proved a great hit with both young and old and, inevitably, everyone was happy and all misunderstandings were sorted out by the time the two evening performances came to an end.
The unbelievably large dwarfs (Neil Banner, Sue Crookes, Celia Kelly, Robert Dronfield, Derek Marrison, Claire Bonsall and Marjorie Telford) kept a permanently protective eye on heroine Snow White (Freya Clarke) and her prince (Jasmine Warwick) to outwit the deliciously wicked Queen Lucricia Vicious (Andrew Lovell) while Sugar Bear (Ron Eyley) who turned out to be not only a bear but also TV celebrity Alan Sugar, a High Court judge and Lucricia’s King, fought off the advances of flirtatious Dame Gertie Gigglebag who bore an uncanny resemblance to the Rev Alan Telford without his cassock and surplice.
Nicola Tarbatt was the Clerk of the Court who eventually married Snow White and her prince, Hannah Newman and Emily Pass played two knockabout characters called Drip and Drop, while Merrick Bull needed no encouragement to assume his permanent role as the village Town Crier.
Fairy Cuddles (Chloe Chandler, who also helped with the choreography) headed a delightful ring of pantomime fairies (Georgina Tarbatt, Emily Daykin, Estee Hunter-Bott, Verity Camm, Ella Parsons and Evie Bell) while Theo Bell, Alex Knighton and Daniel Knighton were suitably scary as a gang of ghouls and Jennifer Daykin, Sophie Tarbatt, Lucy Evans and Mia Parsons were guests at Queen Lucricia’s party.
This year, there was again praise for Phil Clark’s sound and lighting, Nigel Early’s eye-catching set and props which included an exploding vacuum cleaner (sadly, Nigel never got to see the fruits of his labours for the pantomime. Illness confined him to bed throughout the final rehearsal and two performances), the live music of pianist Sarah Evans and percussionist Pat Sabin, and the efforts of stage managers Sheena Clark, Wendy Taylor, Helen Brown and Stevie Dronfield.
“Even though illness took its toll on several members of the cast in the days before the show opened, the reaction to the performances from the audience on both Friday and Saturday nights was amazing,” said Rosemary.
“The Parish Hall was packed and there was a lot of praise for our efforts this year, particularly for the children who played the fairies, ghouls and party guests in the pantomime. Several people thought this was one of our best ever shows,” she added.