Review: The Swan Princess, Ballachulish Village Hall

The Swan Princess , Odette (Aimee Campbell) has her first encounter with the villainous wizard, Rothbart (David Rounce) where he gives her a magic swan. Photograph: Iain Ferguson , alba.photos NO F50 Showstoppers panto 01
The Swan Princess , Odette (Aimee Campbell) has her first encounter with the villainous wizard, Rothbart (David Rounce) where he gives her a magic swan. Photograph: Iain Ferguson , alba.photos NO F50 Showstoppers panto 01

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Yet another spectacular Showstopper production proves that pantomime is alive and well and currently living in Ballachulish.

Traditional panto values, tastefully brought up-to-date by modern technology, resulted in a show which, throughout, had something to
sustain the interest of all ages, from children to old fogies like me.

The script was written by ex-Showstopper Ryan Laskey, (adapted by Sheena Coull and Paul Hornby-Battrick) and was well constructed to include the usual panto content from local and/or corny gags, goodies and baddies, and a traditional love story.

I thought the plot in the second act got a wee bit lost and hurried, but apart from that was most commendable.

The sets and scenery by Brian Dickie were for the most part simple but effective and pleasing on the eye. They were capably handled by Kathryn McDonald and her stage crew.

A special mention must go to the ladies in the costume/hair/make-up team, led by Sue Hood. Their combined efforts successfully met the requirements of a key panto ingredient. The costumes were just wonderful and added greatly to the overall spectacle.

A good, strong supporting cast/chorus (too numerous to mention
individually) were enthusiastically involved throughout the show as
(variously) villagers, cygnets etc. and always looked totally involved in
the action.

Kelly Follan as Druzella, and Shona Bell as Anastasia both performed well, and I particularly liked Holly Baldwin (Splat) and Stuart MacMillan as Silly Billy. James Ross was suitably and commendably henpecked as the King (and who wouldn’t be, in the  face of Aileen Hornby’s wonderfully imperious portrayal of the Queen?).

Alan Gray is a great Dame in the best panto tradition, interacting (not to mention overacting) wonderfully well with all ages in the audience, and greatly adding to the enjoyment of all.

Equally in the best tradition, and equally adding to the enjoyment, was David Rounce as the villainous Baron. Roundly and justifiably boo-ed by the audience on his every appearance, he was just great.

Emma Smith (on Friday eve) performed really well as Derek, maintaining a high level portrayal throughout the show. A special mention to Aimee Campbell as the heroine, Odette.

She worked hard to evoke suitable empathy from the audience, and coped really well with some difficult singing parts. Well done, Aimee.

The choreography was in the very capable hands of Victoria Horn,
and the spectacular onstage result was obviously the result of much
painstaking rehearsal, particularly in the big production numbers.

Adding hugely to the overall success were the musical direction,
sound direction and lighting. All of this was flawless throughout the
show, and a tremendous credit to the talented Paul Hornby-Battrick
and his equally talented crew.

Bringing all of the above together to create a great show was in the
most capable hands of director, Sheena Coull.

Sheena has a wonderful sense of the musical, the dramatic, the spectacular, and even, the downright ridiculous, all of which are essential requirements of a successful panto – which this most certainly turned out to be. Well done to everyone concerned.

N McA

 

CAPTION:

The Swan Princess , Odette (Aimee Campbell) has her first encounter with the villainous wizard, Rothbart (David Rounce) where he gives her a magic swan. Photograph: Iain Ferguson , alba.photos

NO F50 Showstoppers panto 01