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YOULGRAVE: Puss in Boots is a purr-fect panto

Youlgrave Panto, Puss in Boots, John Orchard with Thomas Birch and Damion Glover

Youlgrave Panto, Puss in Boots, John Orchard with Thomas Birch and Damion Glover

They know how to throw a good panto in Youlgrave, oh yes they do!

They know how to throw a good panto in Youlgrave, oh yes they do!

After all, the village has a proud tradition of staging such shows which stretches back half a century, making Youlgrave the indomitable fairy godmother of panto production in Derbyshire.

If anyone needs pointers on what makes a good panto, then they should head for the beautiful village on top of a hill near Bakewell.

It’s apparent in watching this year’s spectacular, Puss In Boots, that this self-sufficient community has really pulled together for the past four months to create a memorable show.

The costumes, lovingly made by the women in the village, are colourful and imaginative. The painted backdrops are works of art, rivalling those I’ve seen in professional theatres.

There’s even ingenious special effects, thanks to the technical wizards in the group.

But while the visual aspects may have the wow factor, it’s the youngsters that give the panto its charm. So often, other village pantos will use their young people as chorus members or dancers who never utter a spoken word - but that’s not the case in Youlgrave,

There’s at least three young people for every adult treading the boards in Puss In Boots. Heading the cast, young Sophie Dillon gives a confident performance as Colin, Marquis of Carabas, supported by Jade Shimwell who shines in the role of Princess Melody.

Eve Birch is the Puss of the title and gets some of the best lines in the show. Her little brother Thomas Birch as Basil and his sidekick Damion Glover playing Billy “Our Kid” make a dynamic double act

Dilys Morgan plays the youngest and prettiest Fairy Godmother I have seen and give a magical performance befitting of her role.

Working with children can be unpredictable as Nic Wilson, playing the panto dame, found out last night (Thursday, January 31). A swarm of little bees buzzed off stage and didn’t reappear on cue which created a little confusion but nothing that couldn’t be salvaged by stage stalwart Nic.

As Dame Daffodil, one of six characters played by adults, Nic brings great comedy to the role and it’s great to hear a dame who really can sing well. He’s ably supported by Simon Edmonds, playing the colourful tailor Mr Humphrey.

John Orchard gives a spellbinding performance as Wizard Wotsizname, disguising himself as characters from other pantos such as Captain Hook and Abanazar.

Producer and musical director Jan Wilson has scored another big hit.

Puss In Boots continues its run on February 1 and 2, 6, 7, 8 and 9 at 7.30pm with Saturday matinees at 2.30pm.

 

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