Wellington Pantomime Group’s production, ‘Hercules: the Pantomime’, which is now in the later stages of rehearsal, promises to deliver all those elements so enduring about the genre – heroes and villains, daftness, zany humour, romance, songs, dance routines and a highly unlikely narrative. And a happy ending, of course. Expect togas, more than a little ‘Up Pompeii’ saucy humour and adventures that may stray just a little from the Greco-Roman myth. Hercules and his labours may not seem to be the usual pantomime material but all the classic elements have been worked into the script by Joshua and Lewis Clarke.
But this production offers something quite fresh too in the youthful enthusiasm, skills and talent of its Director, Ashleigh Payne who is also choreographer for the show. He is joined by another strikingly-youthful Musical Director, Chris Grabham. With these two leading the team there’s no surprise in finding a rehearsal to be full of energy, confidence and sheer enjoyment from the performers as the show takes shape. The rehearsal period is long and very time-consuming for the whole cast who, it should be remembered, have school, college and day jobs but Ashleigh and Chris seem to have instilled a sense of fun as well as great confidence and zeal in them all.
Ashleigh is a fine example of the way Wellington Arts’ Association’s groups foster and train young performers: he began as a member of Genesis Youth Theatre, worked his way through OpSoc and Pantomime Group productions and is now in training for what he hopes will be a professional career in theatre.
He has assembled a big cast – ‘39’ he said – including familiar Arts’ Association performers, some talented new faces, a very strong group of dancers and lively Genesis youngsters; Chris will have 13 musicians in his band at The Wellesley so expect a BIG production!
The town has already been given a taste of what is to come in ‘Hercules’. Performers were present at the switch-on of the Christmas lights and at ‘Christmas at The Wellesley’. Tickets are on sale, both online – email@example.com – and at Odette’s Tea Room in Wellington High Street. It is advisable to book as early as possible for this show.
‘Hercules: the Pantomime’ is at The Wellesley Theatre, Wellington from Wednesday 24th January to Sunday 28th January at 7.30pm, on Saturday 27th January at 10.00am and 2.30pm and on Sunday 28th January at 12.30pm.