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Review of "A Great Western"

The principal boy and girl were well portrayed by Bethan Bullen and Kate Chisnall, who gave touching performances and both were suitably lively and sensitive by turns. Hairy Hank (a heavily bearded Chris Bishop) and his gang were very entertaining, sometimes fierce but more often Keystone Kops, and Merlin Skinner's limp-wristed Gonzales and Charlotte Taylor's naive kid provided plenty of laughs. Vanessa Buck (Juanita), Chris Freeman (Peggy-Sue) and Andrew Brownless as The Sheriff all gave sterling support and the cast of Amigos, Courtiers and saloon customers sang well and provided great continuity during scene changes.

An undoubted high spot was the Rev Duncan Swan, a matter of days into his new post, demonstrating as The Preacherman an admirable ability both as a great sport and an actor with a faultless accent - what a find for St Mary's!

Chris Buck provided a range of fitting music and worked like a Trojan behind the scenes. There was tremendous support from the backstage crew and those who provided a spectacular set; especially worth a mention was Ann Poulter's contribution to the scenery, Sachiko Pearce's costumes and Sarah Palmer's choreography and make-up.

The show was a great success, from its jolly opening number to the foot tapping finale. Heartiest congratulations must go to Vanessa Buck for her hard work in putting together this terrific show which not only was marvellous fun, but also raised over £600, most of it going to the church development fund.

Reviewed by Helen Chisnall

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There was a mixture of running gags (the Incompetent Four . . . spit - ding!), hilarious and well-timed catch phrases (Shut up, Kid!), and traditional favourites (it's behind you!). Overall it was a novel combination of the traditional boy (runaway prince) meets girl (long lost princess), kings, queens and panto dame, alongside a rollicking 'goodies and baddies' Wild West theme. There were even shades of the Good Samaritan and a morally uplifting storyline.

Michael Cooke was the embodiment of sliminess and a great advert for recalcitrant publicans everywhere. He gave an energetic performance and a brilliantly wicked rendition of his song Slimy Ike. But even he got his girl in the end, pairing up with the equally vigorous and heart warming Justin Taylor as Nannie the dame. John Kensett was a wonderfully curmudgeonly King Bertram of Taramasalata, and was well matched by Martha Ellison's Queen of Tsatsiki. Both had agreeably corresponding sidekicks in Alan Turton's Grand Vizier (with a nice line in ad libs), and Bobby Clarke and Katherine Samuels' as Ladies Vera and Hydrangea.

Cactus with hat on

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Presented by St. Mary's Panto Gang, January 2006

It was 'Yee-ha' at Slimy Ike's at the end of January as the St. Mary's Panto Gang strutted their stuff for the third year running. And what a show it was! The Gang have gone from strength to strength and it was good to see the old (and not so old) regulars as well as some welcome newcomers.