A Whirlwind World Tour of Jumbleland

Alice in Jumbleland
Presented at the Public Hall by the
Pocahontas Players (20 January 2017) –

The lights dim and the curtain rises on a whirlwind world tour of Jumbleland with the ever enthusiastic Pocahontas Players or PP’s as they are affectionately known locally. This being only my second visit to a production by this local group, it is already clear that they have fantastic local and family support, but their reach and charm goes beyond just friends and family and on this second viewing it is clear to see why.

I  was  raised  on  local  community  theatre  and  my  own  first performance  on  stage  was  a  local  ‘gang  show’  and  this  fun production had a very familiar feel of some lovely set pieces and classic ‘known’ theatre scenes all intertwined with a nice thread of a lost in time story.

The first scene introduced us to an energetic and apparently new dimension  for  the  ‘Players’,  the  young  dance  troupe  the ‘Youngstarz’,  and  they  lived  up  to  this  name  with  some  well executed moves to some appropriate choreography from Carla Pooley.

The clear singing voices throughout were nice to hear and it is a small shame that on some of the musical tracks originals rather than backings are used which tend to hide the potential of some clearly talented singers. There were a few sound issues, but on further investigation I would say these were due to the fact that the  usual  sound  operator  was  unfortunately  indisposed.    Dave Curtis who had to operate both lights and sound at short notice deserves special mention for working through superbly well.

We meet the very nicely played Alice (Kelsie Hall) straight away and her solid performance throughout allows others to bounce off her nicely, none more so than the flying white rabbit (Joshy Chilvers) who also co-directs. He arrives in a wonderful entrance breaking the fourth wall instantly and cementing his place firmly with the audience; his training for ‘Starlight Express’ clearly has stayed with him and he’ wheelie’ works best when matching the energy his skates give him to his fast paced delivery and adlibs!

The shows ‘baddie’ soon enters (from the right side!) and after a  slow  start  it  is  clear  Juliet  Slight  warmed  throughout  the performance  to  give  a  great  account  as  the  Queen  of  Hearts, finding  that  hard  balance  between  villain  of  the  piece  and remaining likeable to the audience. A strong performance from clear crowd favourite Gary Pearce as the traditional dame has the audience banking on him for some solid laughs. Also adding to   the   comedic   element   was   the   nicely   written   role   of ‘Hump’n’stink’ with Ryan Chilvers making the most of every entrance and building a great running gag through to its finale!

Other  mentions  must  go  to  Elaine  Pygall  with  some  lovely cameos throughout, Warren Marshall for some great character work, the three ‘shakes’ for keeping the chorus energy going, the great double act of Mustapha Look and Mustapha Fortune, played wonderfully by Jimma Race and Simon Boston, for their fast  paced  and  ad-libbing  to  really  engage  and  involve  the audience, and to Dan Jackson and Abbie Marshall for attempting to maintain one of the hardest regional accents for anyone!

Overall  though  this  works  best  as  a  team  piece  and  must  be acknowledged to its success as an ensemble piece with some fab moments  from  everyone  both  on  stage  and  clearly  behind  the scenes as well. Even the traditional pantomime horse has more personality  than  should  be  expected,  played  nicely  by  Jemma Greef and Leesa Espley.

It is clear to see that community theatre in Heacham will be alive and well for a few generations to come if this is anything to go by. Great work to all and thank you for a great night to a well written, strongly directed team performance!

Thank you and WELL DONE.
Mark Pheasant