Saturday, 15 February 2014

Today's the Day!

This is it! Our opening performance of Robinson Crusoe is just hours away and we're so excited that we simply have to give you a sneak peek of our costumes...

With over 120 costumes, more than 40 cast members, a live three-piece band and an array of colourful sets, this is one production that you won't want to miss.

So much work has gone into this show over the last five months, and with last night's final dress rehearsal came our first mini-audience - needless to say, we were fairly nervous!

They loved it. The feedback was unanimously positive, a real boost for our cast, and everyone went home happy.

As you can see, we're not going to give too much away, but we can give you a few cryptic spoilers. 

In the style of BBC's Sherlock, here are three teaser words to give you some clues:

1. Party
2. Crane
3. Disguise

Make of those what you will!

If you're coming to see our production, please do let us know what you think, either by leaving a comment on our blog or by giving us a visit on Facebook or Twitter.

Finally, to all members of The Wight Strollers: break a leg! This is where the hard work truly pays off, with the laughter, the cheering and the buzz of a full theatre.

-

There are still tickets available for all performances of Robinson Crusoe and you can buy them on the door by visiting Medina Box Office up to one hour before the start of each show - we'll see you at the theatre!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Mamma Mia! Here She Goes Again!

Our third interviewee is none other than Sarah Scotcher, the director and co-writer of this year's pantomime: Robinson Crusoe.

Sarah is also playing Chief Abbadon in the showa tribal leader whose hobbies include listening to ABBA songs, chasing men and eating chocolate...

This is the sixth pantomime you've directed in the last seven years for The Wight Strollers - what is it that you love about directing our motley crew?

The Strollers are a great bunch, I love directing them - their enthusiasm is second to none, which I know comes across on stage. I love the wide age range that spans across the company and the family feel. When people dedicate so much of their spare time to a production, it has to be fun. We have this in abundance.


What's the biggest challenge about putting together a production on this scale?

Pulling all different aspects of the show together at the theatre: scenery, costumes, music, dance and, of course, the script. We don't have the luxury of rehearsing at the theatre until a few days before the show and waiting to see if the vision you have carried in your mind as the director is transferred to the stage can be nerve-wracking! You have to be flexible and quick-thinking to make changes on the spot if needs be.


What advice would you give someone who was looking to direct a pantomime?

Play to people's strengths when casting and enlist the help of others who know their craft. You have to develop a thick skin, too, because the buck stops with you! I love directing and I don't think you ever stop learning - I always take something away with me from every show I go to see. The minute you think you know it all, you're in trouble. I have always said I will do what is best for the show and that is exactly what I do, offend or please!


Rumour has it that you've been a Wight Stroller for a long time - how did you start?

The Wight Strollers was formed from the Nesta Meech School of Dance when she retired in 1981. Nesta taught me to dance from an early age - she was a lovely lady, I owe a lot to her. I hope she would be proud of what the Strollers have continued to do.


A member from the start - that is a lot of pantomime! What is it, for you, that makes pantomime so timelessly charming?

Pantomime is family entertainment, and very often it's a child's first experience of live theatre. I love the interaction with the audience and I am at my happiest on stage and ad-libbing with the audience. The sound of laughter, happy faces and being part of that.....there's nothing like it, I am addicted!


And finally, why should people buy tickets for Robinson Crusoe?

Come and see our latest production and join in the fun, you won't be disappointed. Professional quality at amateur prices. Did I mention we raise money for Island charities? ...I'll stop talking now and draw breath!

-

A great interview from an exceptionally talented lady - thanks, Sarah! You heard the director - buy your tickets for Robinson Crusoe by booking online or by phoning Medina Theatre Box Office on 01983 527020.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Polly Perkins Talks Pantomime!

In our last post, we interviewed Patrick Barry about Robinson Crusoe - this time, we're chatting to Sian McCullough, who is taking on her first principal girl role as Polly Perkins...

Congratulations on your first principal role with The Wight Strollers, Sian! What has the experience been like?

Being principal girl sounded daunting at first, but it has turned out to be really enjoyable and I've learnt a lot through The Wight Strollers, especially from Sarah Scotcher! I never thought I'd be able to sing in front of people but this role has built up my confidence hugely.


You've been performing with us for a few years now - what's it like being a member of The Wight Strollers?

Being part of The Wight Strollers is special because everyone gets on so well and, through the company, I have made lifelong friends. Everyone is so welcoming and friendly and I feel that this joyful atmosphere among the Strollers is reflected on stage.


Fantastic to hear! A good atmosphere is a real asset to any pantomime! But why else should people come and see Robinson Crusoe?

Because it's hilarious and  fun for people of all ages, as well as being extremely colourful!


Anything else you'd like to add?

Everyone should come and watch Robinson Crusoe - you'll be guaranteed a laugh...especially if you're trying to get over a lonely Valentines Day!

-

If you want to see what all the fuss is about, book tickets to see Robinson Crusoe this February at Medina Theatre on the Isle of Wight! You can also stay up-to-date with all the latest news from The Wight Strollers by visiting our Facebook and Twitter pages, or by taking a look at our website.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

An Interview with a Castaway...

Costumes are finished, dances are polished, lines are learned and it's exactly one week until Robinson Crusoe opens at Medina Theatre on the Isle of Wight!

In the run-up to the show, we thought it would be great to do some interviews with the cast, starting with Robinson Crusoe himself, also known as Patrick Barry...

So, Patch, when did you first come into contact with the world of pantomime?

My earliest memory of live theatre is two pantomimes, the first being Pinocchio and the second Snow White.I was so young I can barely remember either performance but I do remember the emotion both evoked. I have no idea if the performances were amateur or professional, whether the actors and actresses performing in them were famous or not, but they conjured a magical energy out of their audience.

I was so desperate for Snow White not to be poisoned, I remember screaming at the top of my voice "Don't eat the apple!" - my mum insists the the theatre was silent at that point, but then the suspense broke and all the children shouted it. Yet such are the rules of panto that our pleas went unheard, or at the very least ignored - Snow White, after all, knew she had a Prince to kiss!

As for Pinocchio? Pure magic. To this day I can't explain how Pinocchio's nose grow to such an impossible length...


What is it that, in your opinion, makes pantomime so special?

For me, reminiscing about the child I was, it has to be about forging a child's first memory of live theatre. For the adult I am now, it is about families spending quality time together, where, for a few hours, all those worries about the real world can be left outside and everyone can have a good shout, boo and cheer!


And what about The Wight Strollers? What makes them so special?

Well, I love panto. I like watching it and I love being in it. And with The Wight Strollers, it seems a little more magic can be wrought by everyone, because this pantomime enables us all - the cast, backstage crew; production department and perhaps most important, the audience - to help those in need on the Isle of Wight live a little bit easier for a little bit longer... and all we need do to help is have fun.


You've taken on the role of Robinson Crusoe - the title role in only your second pantomime with us! How are you feeling about it, one week away from opening night?

Robinson Crusoe, like Sleeping Beauty last year, will see me embracing my twin fears of singing and dancing. Before the performance I shall be quaking in my proverbial boots, petrified I shall place a note or foot wrong... but I know all that fear will be worth it the moment a little voice in the audience shouts out something so sincere, but so unexpected, that their comments and interplay with the characters on stage is a real part of the show.

Thanks, Patch! A great interview - and good luck with the show, we're sure you'll be fantastic, as always!

Don't forget, you can buy your tickets for Robinson Crusoe by phoning Medina Theatre Box Office on 01983 527020 or by visiting their website.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Of foam swords, spears and inflatable legs...

It's safe to say there's never a dull moment with The Wight Strollers - if we're not prancing about in faux cobwebs or trying to roll a tent from one end of the stage to the other, we're running around in mule costumes or sashaying about as air hostesses. This year, the madness continues, with the help of some foam swords, a few dancers with spears and several pairs of inflatable legs.

Why?

Well, you'll have to come and see Robinson Crusoe to find out!

Over the coming weeks, we'll be giving out teasers about the show and its cast, with new nuggets of information, mini-announcements and cast interviews in every post.

Check out our fantastic behind-the-scenes montage below - you can click on it to see the picture at full size - and tune in next week for the first of our cast interviews!


Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Robinson Crusoe: Tickets are on sale!

The time has come for us to start shamelessly plugging our pantomime, Robinson Crusoe, which sets sail in just over a month at Medina Theatre on the Isle of Wight.

Following the sell-out success of Sleeping Beauty in February last year and our popular carnival float 'Mexican Mayhem' over the summer, we're thrilled to be back with another vibrant and exciting production that guarantees to delight audiences of all ages.

Robinson Crusoe is being performed on Saturday, February 15, at 2:30 and 7:30pm, on Sunday, February 16, at 2:30pm, and on Saturday, February 22, at 2:30 and 7:30pm.

Tickets are £7.50 for adults and £6.50 for children - an absolute bargain for a truly top quality pantomime - and can be bought by phoning Medina Theatre Box Office on 01983 527020 or by booking online.

Junior pirates are encouraged to come in fancy dress, although - of course - there is no age limit on donning an eye patch and finding a faux parrot to sit on your shoulder, if you really fancy getting into the pantomime spirit!

Rehearsals are well underway, and we're proud to be hosting the largest on-stage fight the Isle of Wight has seen in a good long while, with fight choreographer Patrick Barry (also appearing as Robinson Crusoe) at the helm and a large team of combatants armed with foam swords and ready for battle.

The script, too, is going well. Act II is proving stronger for a minor rewrite, and the chorus are doing a wonderful job of mastering the tribal chanting. As for Act I, cast members are starting to put down their script-shaped security blankets and musical numbers are now fully integrated into the action.

Our charities for 2014 have also been decided, and we are thrilled to announce that we will be donating the proceeds of Robinson Crusoe to:
- Sandown and Shanklin Independent Lifeboat
- Spina Bifida Associaion (Isle of Wight)
- Riding for the Disabled (Isle of Wight)
- Across the Board Surf School
- Newport Scouts
- Ability Dogs 4 Young People

To keep up with all the latest pantomime updates, hit that 'like' button on our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Robinson Crusoe: Rehearsals, Awards and Semaphores!

Robinson Crusoe rehearsals are well and truly underway for The Wight Strollers, with the cast already working hard at getting script and song words down for Act I before Christmas.

The show is still two and a half months away, but it feels a lot closer. Thankfully, with such a strong cast and dedicated production team, we're not too worried...yet!

We've been waving flags, tap dancing, testing out flowery swimming caps, learning how to wield spears and even learning to sing in Swahili - so far, so good.

That's not to say we haven't had our hiccups - we have. Act II is undergoing a makeover, songs have shifted keys and changed in length and characters have been tried, tested, retried and settled on. But this is all part of putting on a pantomime and, for the most part, it's an enjoyable process.

In other news, we've now finished learning almost all of the songs, several of the dances are finished and Act I of the script is shaping up rather nicely. We've also passed 300 likes on Facebook this month, and we're thrilled. And the good news from November doesn't stop there!

On November 19, Patrick Barry - our Robinson Crusoe - won the IW Amateur Theatre Award for 'Best Performance in a Christmas Show', for his role as Prince Rupert in Sleeping Beauty. John Hannam, the man who decides on the winners and presents them with their, quite frankly, beautiful glass trophies, described him as 'energetic, enthusiastic...everything a pantomime prince should be.'

We couldn't agree more, and Patch deserves a huge congratulations for all his hard work last year. He earned extra brownie points, of course, when he brought the award to a panto rehearsal and asked for a photo of the company with Sleeping Beauty director Sarah Scotcher holding the trophy - the award belonged to everyone in the photo, he said. What a sweetheart!

In the meantime, tickets for Robinson Crusoe officially go on sale from Medina Theatre Box Office on January 3 - phone number 01983 527020 - and the charities we'll be supporting will be announced in the new year.