Cast, Crew & Reviews - The Three Musketeers 2020

Cast

Dame Constance Kraving - Simon Vines

D'Artagnan - Harriett Jackson

Kitty - Becky Crisfield

Simple Simon - Joe Crisfield

Milady de Winter  - Jane Swale

Athos - Vicky Biggs

Aramis - Jake O'Mahoney

Porthos - Ros Tunbridge

Poulet - Steve Bishop

Cam - Theresa Hallahan

Bert - Angie MacLean

Cardinal Richelieu - Andrew Mander

Rochefort - Jonathan North

King Louis - Shaun Smith

Queen Anne - Raquel Andres

Local 1 & Captain Treville - Rob Preston

Local 2 & Ghostly Jailer - Tony Dent

Duke of Buckingham - Neil Tunbridge

Royal Guard - Rick Roberts

Dawn - Penny Payne

Maitre D - John Hallahan

 

Realisation Team

Written by Ros Tunbridge & Simon Vines

Director  -  John Hallahan

Set Designer  -  Tony Dent

Technical Co-Ordinator  -  Alistair Kennard

Stage Management: Andy Hall & Steve Harris

Musical Director  -  Robert Randall

Band  -  keyboard: Robert Randall, guitar: Ric Nelson,  bass: Kirsten Pett, drums: Desmond James

Choreographer  -  Becky Crisfield

Lighting & Sound  -  Steve North, Julie Montgomery (with support from Alistair Kennard and Colin Burgess)

Stage Operations  -  Andy Hall, Steve Harris, Nick Gane, James Quinn

Props  -  Theresa Hallahan, Ros Tunbridge, Barbara Dent

Set Construction & Decor  -  Tony Dent, Alistair Kennard, Phil Rathbone, Neil Tunbridge, Barbara Dent, Carol Griffiths

Costumes by BACARDI (Barbara Dent, Carol Griffiths, Diana Quinn)

Make-up  -  Barbara Dent, Carol Griffiths

Prompt  -  Rosemary Stern, Hazel Mason

Box Office  -  Rick Roberts

Programme  -  Vicky Biggs, Graeme Tunbridge

Publicity  -  The Committee

Front of House  -  Rick Roberts

Refreshments  -  Joe & Becky Crisfield

Review by Phil Wilcox, National Operatic and Dramatic Association

After a warm personal welcome by members of your front of house team led by Rick Roberts, the humorous tone for the evening was set by the amusing variation on the usual pre-curtain announcements. References to mobile phones and so on were delivered in in a well-delivered cod French accent, ending with “Merci”.

A truly witty and highly original script (co-written by Ros Tunbridge and Simon Vines, who also successfully took on major roles) ensured that your entire ensemble patently enjoyed themselves.

The comparatively simple sets (Tony Dent, Alistair Kennard, Phil Rathbone, Neil Tunbridge, Barbara Dent and Carol Griffiths) and décor, including a false proscenium arch and barrels with sliding fronts, were pleasing on the eye.

Your strong principal line-up got off to a dynamic start with the powerful first entrance of totally convincing female baddie Jane Swale as Milady de Winter, who successfully maintained her persona throughout the evening. Admirably hissable. Joining her as fellow baddie Cardinal Richelieu, Andrew Mander, in a striking red costume - only one of many provided once again by the talented trio of ladies going under the clever acronym of Bacardi - offered a matching strong characterisation.

Harriett Jackson (D’Artagnan) had plenty of acting personality, coupled with a pleasant singing voice, while your resident husband and wife team Joe and Becky Crisfield were up to their usual professional standard as a likeable Simple Simon and his would-be amour Kitty. Becky was also responsible for choreographing some highly enjoyable well-rehearsed company dance routines, always potentially tricky on a crowded stage.

Your society is fortunate to have a dame (the aforementioned Mr Vines) who, as last year, once again fitted so naturally into the role. Never overly outrageous, playing well to children while at the same time giving the nod and wink to adults in this unique genre, he is a true master (mistress?) of the art. Versatility personified.

One of six newcomers to your group, Jonathan North made an instant impact, playing, in his own words, “the dashingly handsome and not at all villainous” Rochefort. As for the Three Musketeers of the title, another Pantoloons debutant, Jake O’Mahoney (Aramis), entered into the spirit of the French romp to the manner born, more than capably accompanied by Athos (Vicky Briggs) and Porthos (Ros Tunbridge), who delivered their lines and songs well. (I enjoyed the many variations on a certain time-honoured phrase, such as “Ale for one and one for ale”).

Steve Bishop, encased in a colourful chicken costume as Poulet, gave a good performance, and more Pantoloons first-timers, Raquel Andres and Shaun Smith did the company proud as the Queen and King, playing off each other well. An honourable mention must also go to fifth new player, Penny Payne (“four years and a drama degree and I get one line”) as Dawn, complete with sign, who featured in a running gag. Last but not least, newcomer number six (Rob Preston) was very much at ease in his roles of Local 1 and Captain Treville.

The combination of the two light-hearted sub-villains, each sporting a Welsh accent, Cam (Theresa Hallahan) and Bert (Eric Morecambe lookalike Angie MacLean) was truly inspired casting. They were perfectly matched, bouncing some amusing lines off each other, and I particularly liked their stagecraft.

Filling in the small, but no less vital roles, Tony Dent (“It’s behind you”), Neil Tunbridge and even the show’s director John Hallahan (who merits a round of applause for a first class production) contributed to the overall enjoyment.

Music, played by your MD Robert Randall and a small but high standard band, was well selected, particularly the offbeat choice of Tragedy for the jail scene which opened Act Two and the neatly adapted Mistress of the House. Stage management ran smoothly, thanks to Andy Hall and Steve Harris and lighting and sound (designed and operated by Steve North and Julie Montgomery, ably supported by Alistair Kennard and Colin Burgess) were used effectively, with effects ranging from a donkey to night literally falling!

Props (a joint effort by Theresa, Ros and Barbara), including a large baguette, song sheets and some portable cell bars were well constructed, and I thought your programme, with its cartoon on the front, was skilfully produced.

Both topical (allusions to everything from Love Island to Price Andrew’s sweat (!); the French’s attitude to the Brits on Brexit; and Chateau Corbyn) and pun-filled (Bordeaux collies, Squeaky Grinders and eggonomics to name a few of my top ones), your show had something to bring a smile to everyone’s faces. Well done to everyone involved, onstage and behind the scenes.

I can invariably spot the odd unintentional slip or two in the many productions I review. The Three Musketeers - Le Panto - as I believe it was affectionately known was simply flawless. To describe it in two words: truly magnifique. I look forward to making my annual visit to Pantoloons next year to see what treats you have in store.

Review by Theo Spring

Bonjour à tous. What a colourful and vibrant show this was – the colour achieved by truly beautiful costumes by the three-team Bacardi and by Tony Dent’s set design. The Pantoloons increase their stagecraft expertise year on year, but I cannot recall a show which had not only so many set changes, with the backstage crew doing sterling work, but so many costume changes too. It really was a delight on the eye. Chairman, and the show’s director, John Hallahan mentioned in his programme message the first show at Kenley School – Little Red Riding Hood. 32 years ago, I was there and continued to review them, so am in a reasonably authoritative position to note their theatrical journey.

Script-writers Ros Tunbridge and Simon Vines had used the historical characters conjured up by Alexandre Dumas, thus requiring a large cast. New faces joined the more regular team on stage to people the story, creating  considerable impact for the concerted numbers when the cast were all in full voice and hardly left any space on the stage.

Our hero was, of course, D’Artagnan who travelled to Paris with a letter of introduction to the Captain of the Musketeers Captain Treville – a rather dashing Rob Preston.  Harriett Jackson was both lively and tuneful in the role – an excellent principal boy. ‘His’ love interest was the choreographer, a chirpy Becky Crisfield as Kitty, who even outshone her performance last year as Jim in Treasure Island.

In keeping with the historical characters, Milady de Winter, rather gorgeously dressed, was delivered by Jane Swale with rhyming malevolence, forsaking her more usual comic characters. This oeuvre was filled by Theresa Hallahan and Angie MacLean as the cheeky knockabouts Cam and Bert who delivered their lines, for some reason, in a Welsh accent. Not necessarily what you would expect to find in Paris! More comedy came clearly through from Joe Crisfield in the Simple Simon role. Leading many of the scenes, he is a real panto trouper.

Incorporating pantomime rituals into an historic script was demanding to say the least but there were many opportunities for audience participation – Tony Dent’s ‘ghost’ was ‘Behind You’, the audience song(s) were cleverly integrated and tuneful and there were several opportunities to argue ‘Oh no it isn’t’

Alongside Milady, the show delivered two more baddies. Andrew Mander, resplendent in red, planned to overthrow the kingdom as Cardinal Richelieu and Johnathan North as Rochefort, wielding a huge black cloak, added to the angst.

Dashing about both stage and auditorium Steve Bishop was an energetic Poulet the chicken, although quite determined that laying one egg was ‘an oeuf’ – just one of many French words used throughout the script for comic effect or just to add a French flavour.

The running gag from the three musketeers themselves was a seemingly endless variation on the ‘all for one and one for all’ motto, always gallantly delivered by Vicky Biggs as Athos, Jake O’Mahoney as Aramis and Ros Tunbridge as Porthos. The trio also joined to threaten ‘pistols at dawn’ with Penny Payne as Dawn, appearing stage right with a placard bearing the legend – Dawn. She eventually got three lines to deliver too!

The dastardly plan to overthrow King Louis, imperially played by Shaun Smith in yet another regal costume, was thwarted by bravado and impressive kisses ‘endured’ with seeming enjoyment by Raquel Andres as the charming Queen Anne.

Once more, central stage, Simon Vines delivered his individual-style dame as Constance Kraving who ran La Tête du Nag Inn. More lovely costumes here and such good repartee with the audience, ‘she’ was certainly a mainstay of the show.

Cameo roles were played by Neil Tunbridge as the over-affectionate Duke of Buckingham, John Hallahan as the Maurice Chevalier sound-alike Maître’D and Rick Roberts as the Royal Guard.

A four-person team delivered effective lighting and right-on-cue sound effects whose accurate delivery was vital. Musical direction was from Robert Randall and his band. As is their custom, the non-profit making group donate their takings to charity. This year the Sutton Carers Centre benefit from their generosity.