Review: Baslow Players’ production of The Gingerbread Man

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Take a fairy story, set it in your village, add a popular telly programme, a superhero, a couple of villains and, hey presto, you have the recipe for a perfect panto.

Baslow Players whip up a delicious confection of adventure and comedy in this week’s production of The Gingerbread Man.

The Gingerbread Man performed by Baslow Players

The Gingerbread Man performed by Baslow Players

Masquerading as the Baslow Bake­ Off, the panto sees a James Bond­ style agent dispatached on an undercover mission to the village to stop two villains who are cheating their way through competitions in Derbyshire.

This ingenious story, created by Angela Robinson, Zoe Wareham and Katie Wood, taps into the nation’s fixation with the smash-­hit cookery show. It also plays on the love of cake, with members of the audience invited to sample weird concoctions whisked up by the bake-­off contestants.

Mary Russell plays the title role in true pantomime fashion, transformed from super spy James Fondant into The Gingerbread Man. Her expressions, mannerisms and gung­-ho approach are straight out of the Roger Moore school of acting.

She’s supported in her endeavours by Kate Stuart in the role of M and Joe Ahluwalia playing Q, both of whom give terrific performances.

The 00 ­heaven theme is augmented by the entrance of Liam Shaw, playing The Fairy Godfather in Blofield fashion, complete with cat companion. Liam revels in his characterisation of the villain and his reworking of Shaggy’s song Mr Boombastic brings the house down.

Fellow baddie Sally Myatt is a true foxy lady, sneaking seductively out of the stage curtain. She claws the air, hisses at the audience and gives it her all in the role of Foxy Loxy.

Dame for a laugh Ash Sharman is back for his 12th panto, this time playing Henny Penny. The cookery-mad chicken not only has the secret recipe for the prize­ winning Baslow Cake but also has to keep dodging giant acorns.

Two other males don the dresses: Ian Johnson and newcomer Charlie Grottick, the latter stepping in at just three weeks notice, who play the Fairy Godfather’s sidekicks Rose and Lemon.

Singing coach Peter Skinner has worked hard to train the cast in performances of reworded classic songs including a couple from Bond movies as has set painter Moira

Locke whose backdrops truly are a work of art.

The Gingerbread Man, directed by Angela Robinson, continues its run at Baslow Village Hall tonight (Friday, February 13) and tomorrow.

Catch it if you can!

GAY BOLTON