PADOS Junior Theatre Group
Groups A and B
Director: Jack Martin
Musical Director: Helen Wilkinson
Choreography: Zoe Munteanu
Music supplied by backing tracks
Pantomime has to be one of the most difficult art forms to present as choosing pantomime is throwing the students of theatre in at the deep end. There is, I think, no better place to start to learn theatre skills than with pantomime. Character development, in its larger-than-life presentation will teach the young students the art of engaging with an audience and to hold its interest. The importance of team work in the company presenting the show, and learning that every bit of movement and gesture has to have meaning and purpose is essential. Both PADOS Junior Theatre groups were set the challenge of presenting Cinderella.
The company was given all the tools to do the job on a very workable, well painted set, and with cloths being swiped in and out. There was a coach, and a magical ball dress for the transformation scene, which was well received. .Atmospheric lighting and a good sound mix all added to the overall presentation. The niggling factor was the speakers were in front of proscenium and, at times, there was a tendency to drown out the performers. The music should be there to accompany the performers, not to be the star.
The costumes were impressive although some accessories were missing which might have completed the characterisations. However, they were worn well and made clear the status of the various characters. This dressing of each character appropriately was another learning curve. Wigs, hair, and make-up (which, because of the ages of the performers, was sympathetically applied) completed the presentation.
The work of the mentor/director was clear: the development of individual performers in groups A and B achieved notable standards. Interpretation of the choreography by both groups was well executed; they did not struggle with coordination. Backing tracks take no prisoners as there is no flexibility. As the cast was performing and, at the same time, learning, a little too much was expected from them. But, all the energy levels were good and everyone achieved a lot. Just momentarily the youngest cast members flagged a little but they soon picked up.
Group ‘A’ displayed good character delivery from a very engaging Buttons to an outrageous pair of Ugly Sisters. Aided by an enthusiastic cast which worked as one, a goal the creative team achieved with merit. There wasn’t any apprehension when addressing the audience. Their diction was clear, and there was no confusion Cinderella’s story was interestingly conveyed.
Group ‘B’. Equally included strong character playing. For this rendition there were two lots of ‘skin parts’, a cat, and a couple of mice. All those with lines were supported by the other cast members. The songs were convincingly interpreted but as expected, it was the ensemble numbers that were given that extra push. This must have pleased the production team.
It was very interesting to see two groups successfully present the same piece but with such different interpretations. It must have been a lot of work for those in charge but very rewarding.
PADOS Junior theatre Group members succeeded in their newly found stage skills of storytelling and movement. The work now begins to build on that experience at their weekly workshops.