Markham Players returned after the pandemic years to entertain enthusiastic audiences in February. The line-up had changed somewhat and undoubtedly some of the younger faces had grown up, but the much-loved cheeky family fun was the same as ever. This year narrator Geoff Woodman helped audience members follow the plot.
‘Puss in Boots’ showcased the delightful Mary Dainton, bringing him to life as a puss who could speak. Having convinced his companions to get him his boots, he set about helping Billy, played by a confident new leading man, Rose Clifford, to navigate the choppy waters to a romantic reunion with his love.
Sisters Elizabeth and Nellie Thornton recently played minor parts, but have now developed into accomplished performers. 2023 saw them playing the beautiful Princess Oreo and King Garibaldi respectively. Oreo and Billy meet by chance and are instantly smitten, but both choose to conceal their true identities. Where would panto story lines be if the love interests were open and honest from the start?
Inevitably there was a baddie to heckle. Mark Thornton, loved by audiences for his over-the-top performances as a dame, transferred his skills to making Count Bacquad a fearsomely comic challenger to Billy for Oreo’s hand. No baddie is complete without his bumbling henchmen; familiar faces Bob Gale and Tony Bell have delighted audiences for years and have not lost their touch.
The baddies might have prevailed, but for Billy and Puss’ not so secret weapon – the gruesome and garrulous Aunt Delilah, played with great enthusiasm and a twinkle in the heavily made-up eye by John Mitchell. No eligible man was safe as she determined to find her perfect match. In a novel twist she possessed the effortless ability to talk incessantly in addition to the armoury of the traditional dame and brought it to bear to wear down any hapless chap in her clutches.
Delilah, Billy and the ever-resourceful Puss set out to rescue Oreo after she was imprisoned in his cellar by the ghastly Count Bacquad. Meanwhile he was busy preparing a love potion to persuade her that he was the man of her dreams. How could that possibly go wrong?
The poor King and the Queen, played by another long-standing favourite, Kevan Micklethwaite, set forth with their footman, (newcomer Gordon Sims), looking for their daughter. She was eventually saved when Puss and Count Bacquad fought an unlikely sword fight for her. Victor Puss and Billy had no trouble persuading King Garibaldi and Queen Bourbon to give their blessing to the marriage of the lovely Oreo to Billy. The ghastly, verbose Delilah grabbed her chance, and her man – the distraught Count Bacquad, clutching the potion soon to be used on him.
Fans of the Players’ pantos were probably wondering at the absence of Greg Morrall who invariably stars as the man we love to hate. Unable to undertake a big part this year, he was revealed to have been the cheeky ghost.
The audiences at both Dunham on Trent and East Markham villages welcomed the Players with great enthusiasm and generously supported the raffles in aid of MacMillan Cancer Support and Bassetlaw Hospice. The Players would like to thank everyone for their support: those who helped behind the scenes and who sponsored the production as well as the audiences who made it all come to life.
The Players welcome help with all aspects of the production – behind the with costumes, props, sound, lighting and effects, and front of house as well as performing. Enthusiasm and a willingness to commit are the main qualifications so, if you would like to be part of the next production, contact them via their Facebook page ‘Markham Players’.