Friday, 5 February 2016

Fairy Fortune's First Flight!

Lucinda Rigby has been a member of The Wight Strollers since she was four years old, and this year's pantomime will mark her twelfth production with the company.

In Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Lulu will be taking her first ever speaking role with The Wight Strollers as the magical Fairy Fortune, the good fairy who watches over Snow White and acts as a narrator for the audience, book-ending the story and saving the day in the way that only pantomime fairies can!

So we thought we'd talk to Lulu about how she's finding her first role, about her time in The Wight Strollers and, of course, why everyone should book tickets to see the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs...

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Hi, Lulu! I have to say, it's very strange sitting down to interview you now - I remember you when you were tiny,  and now you're 15 years old and taking a speaking role! How time flies! 

For those that don't know you, tell us about your first pantomime...

My first Panto was Robinson Crusoe in 2005, when I was four. I'm now 15, so I can hardly remember it, but I'm sure that in our little seahorse costumes we stole the show just as much as the little ones will do this year - they're so cute!

They are indeed! How did you feel when you were asked to play Fairy Fortune?

When I was originally asked if I wanted to play Fairy Fortune, my first thought was 'Me? Really?' - for as long as I remember I'd been looking up to the 'big girls' who played the fairy and I was so excited at the thought that this year it could actually be me, so naturally I pushed all nervous thoughts aside and said yes only about 5 minutes after I'd been asked!

What's been the most enjoyable thing about playing Fairy Fortune?

The most enjoyable part of playing Fairy Fortune has definitely been embracing my inner magic. It sounds silly I know, but it gets to a point at rehearsals where I genuinely think my wand is freezing and unfreezing the scenes.

It doesn't sound silly at all - it sounds very magical! So what are you most looking forward to about getting an audience?

When it comes to getting an audience, the thing I'm most looking forward too is the interaction and the whole thing just becoming more real, especially for the young children and maybe even some adults who still believe in magic.

In your opinion, what is it about the Strollers that makes it so special and keeps people coming back, both on and off stage?

The thing I love most about Strollers, and the reason I think people keep coming back, is that we're not just a cast but more of a family. There is definitely a huge amount of love between all members of Strollers whether they're in the current production or not, and any stroller rehearsal or outing that we may do is genuinely just a happy (not to mention hilarious!) place to be.

If you could describe this year's pantomime in just 3 words, what would they be?

Three words would be...awesome, jazzy and magical!


Why do you think the 'good fairy' role is so important in pantomime?

I think the good fairy role is important in pantomimes as, aside from the main characters, it gives the audience someone to root for in the rivalry between the goodies and baddies in the story. Also, what happy ending is really complete without a little bit of magic on the way?

I totally agree! Well, we're certainly all rooting for you, Lulu - the very best of luck for your first speaking role, and enjoy every second!

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To see Lulu in action as the magical Fairy Fortune, come along to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Medina Theatre this half term, on February 13th, 14th and 20th. Tickets are available from Medina Box Office by phoning 01983 823884 or by visiting their website.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Snow White: A Sneak Peek...

Rehearsals so far have been a blast and, with ticket sales through the roof, we've stepped up a gear this month to ensure that our production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is our most magical pantomime to date.

Our cast are rehearsing twice weekly, smaller groups are meeting for extra rehearsals in their free time, our dancers have extended their hours at Sunday rehearsals, our backstage team are putting the finishing touches to the scenery, our publicity team are working their socks off, our wardrobe department are sewing in their every spare minute, and Panto HQ is littered with paperwork as we enter the final countdown to showtime - it's all systems go in PantoLand!

So we thought we'd treat you to a few pictures from behind the scenes and a few words from our 50-strong cast...


"The rehearsals for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs this year have been funny - and challenging at times! The cast are amazing! And yet again, this year new members have joined our ever-increasing team. I cannot wait to see the cast in costume, as this will truly bring the characters to life...pantomime fun, songs and dance - a great show, not to be missed!"
Stuart Egan - Justice Quill




"I am hugely proud of our talented cast and crew.  Snow White is my favourite pantomime and I am thrilled to be directing again.  I always maintain panto is often a child's first experience of live theatre, and in a world filled with screens and technology it is even more important that children get a chance to see real people on stage....you can't pause or rewind us! Directing is hard work but bringing the vision together is truly rewarding, especially when you work alongside such a talented team. I love The Wight Strollers."
Sarah Scotcher - The 'Grumbly' Director



"I always love the Strollers' panto rehearsals but this stage in the game is certainly the best; it's great watching all the individual sections coming together and seeing all of our hard work starting to take shape."
Nicola Chastney - Chorus

"Who do you know who has a fabulous dressing up wardrobe? . . . A member of the Wight Strollers, thats who! Come along for a couple of hours of panto fun and see the costumes our amazing team of 'our very own costume-makers' have created this year to make our cast 'feel the part!'"
Karen Cassford - Our 'Snoozy' Head of Wardrobe

"So is pantomime just for Christmas? No, not at all, you can enjoy it at any time of the year - and wow, wait 'til you see what The Wight Strollers have in store for you! Comedy, tragedy, suspense, fun, love and even death, all rolled together in a musical bubble which will have you leaving the theatre with a warm glow (even better than a Disney film). Hope to see you there!"
Amanda Gregory - Brainy




"What better way to spend Valentine's weekend than with a timeless tale of True Love?! You will laugh, cry, and above all be completely lost in the magic and excitement of Snow White."
Beth Batchelor - Chorus


"This year, the Strollers have completely outdone themselves. Not only in keeping spirits high through cold rehearsal halls, but in finding that quintessential magic that a classic tale quite like this one certainly requires. For everyone, being part of this has been a roller coaster ride of fun and laughs from the very beginning. I hope you can all come join us and see for yourself, a fantastic retelling of this perfect tale to kick your winter blues away."
Harley Hodgson-Tuck - Prince Ferdinand

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Experience the magic, fun and friendship of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs for yourself by booking tickets for one of our five performances - February 13th, 14th and 20th - at the Medina Theatre Box Office either in person, online or by phoning 01983 823884.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

The Story of 'Snow White'

With today's Google Doodle celebrating the 388th birthday of Charles Perrault, author of Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, we did a bit of reading...

...And it wasn't long before we realised that the original stories are not quite as sweet and sparkly as the Disney versions would have us believe!

So we thought we'd delve into the history of our own fairytale - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - to see if the same was true...

Everyone knows the story, don't they?

Snow White is a princess who is treated like a servant by her stepmother, the Wicked Queen, who is jealous of the princess' beauty and her ability to woo the Prince with a single song. The Queen hatches a plot to kill Snow White, sending out her servant to do the dirty deed - but he has a change of heart and lets her run away.

Snow White stumbles across a cottage in the forest, where she befriends seven dwarfs with her ability to cook, clean and summon woodland animals to do any chores she doesn't fancy doing.

Meanwhile, the Wicked Queen finds out, via her magic mirror, that Snow White is still alive and 'the fairest of them all' - so she poisons an apple and disguises herself as a hag to finish the job and kill Snow White.

Snow White, as princesses are prone to do, falls for the plot and eats the apple, falling into a sleep from which she can be woken only by the all-powerful True Love's Kiss.

Luckily for Snow White, the Prince gets wind of her fate, finds her and kisses her, thus breaking the spell...and they all live Happily Ever After.

But was this always the way it went?

The original story of Snow White was published in 1812 by the Brothers Grimm, and underwent several revisions until 1854, when they finally settled on the version they liked best!

The story was first adapted for Broadway in 1912 and then taken on by Disney in 1937, their first full-length animated feature and the fairytale that spawned their now world-famous 'Disney Princess' collection.

Surprisingly enough, the Disney version (and our pantomime version!) is actually fairly faithful to the original tale, but there are a few key differences, the main one being that the Queen doesn't try just twice to kill Snow White...she tries it four times!

First, the huntsman sets out to kill Snow White but lets her go, fooling the Queen with a boar's lungs and liver, which the Queen has her chef cook for dinner.

Disgusting.

Snow White, meanwhile, has found the dwarfs' cottage and taken refuge there, doing the cooking and cleaning for her new housemates.

In her second attempt, once she learns of Snow White's survival, the Queen disguises herself as a peddler and visits the dwarfs' cottage as a bodice seller, giving Snow White a bodice as a gift but lacing it so tightly that she can't breathe and thus faints. The Queen leaves her for dead, but the dwarfs return just in time and are able to revive Snow White by loosening the bodice strings.

Not to be dissuaded, the Queen tries again, this time as a comb seller. With a poisoned comb, she brushes Snow White's ebony hair, once again causing the princess to faint. But, yet again, the Queen is thwarted by the dwarfs, who are able to revive Snow White. Phew!

Finally, the Queen - disguised as a farmer's wife - resorts to dark magic and poisons an apple. She bites from the green side to demonstrate its juiciness, and Snow White bites from the poisoned red side and chokes. This time, the dwarfs cannot revive her, as they do not know what caused her to fall into her 'sleeping death'. So they place her in a glass coffin.

A passing prince comes across the coffin and - which is a tad creepy - falls instantly in love with the sleeping Snow White, enchanted by her beauty. He asks the dwarfs to let him have the coffin, complete with girl, and they agree - also a tad creepy.

But, as they go to move the coffin, they trip over the roots of a tree; the sudden movement causes the piece of poisoned apple to be dislodged from her throat. She awakes, falls immediately in love with the prince (that was lucky!) and they set a wedding date.

They invite the Wicked Queen to the wedding and, although reluctant, she goes, because she doesn't believe it could possibly be Snow White, alive and getting married - unfortunately for her, when she arrives, the new King and his Queen Snow White present her with a pair of shoes made of glowing-hot iron, which she is forced to dance in until she drops dead.

Pretty 'Grimm', isn't it?

No wonder Disney made a few changes!

We'll stick with the modern retelling, we think, but it's always good to know the origins of a story!

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Check out our version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs this February at Medina Theatre. It's being performed on the 13th at 2:30pm and 7:30pm, on the 14th at 2:30pm and on the 20th at 2:30pm and 7:30pm.

Tickets are £8 for adults and £7 for children - but hurry, they're selling fast! Book now to avoid disappointment!





Sunday, 10 January 2016

It's Not So Easy Being Evil!

Elisa Jones has been with The Wight Strollers a long time. Like many of our members, she has grown up with the group. 

Her first panto was Cinderella, performed in February 1997, when Elisa was just five years old.

Now 24, she’s been part of the dance troupe, the cast and the production crew over the years and has played parts ranging from Percy the Parrot to Aladdin!

This, however, is her first time playing a villain, so we wanted to sit down and have a chat about her time with the Strollers, her fondest memories and, of course, the nefarious Queen Avarice!

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So, Elisa, how are you feeling about playing your first pantomime villain?

I’m really excited - I’ve never done it before and it’s so different to all the other parts I’ve played. I’ve always found principal [girl/boy] parts quite difficult because they’re so not me, whereas this I can really kind of relate to, in a way – oh no, that makes me sound like a bit of a psycho, doesn’t it?

No, of course not! Besides, everyone secretly loves the villains!*

*Note: At this point, we did politely decline the offered apple juice and put Prince Ferdinand on speed dial…just in case!

In all seriousness, villains are fantastic characters to play but they must come with their downsides! For you, what’s been the hardest thing about playing the iconic Wicked Queen? 

Trying not to be too happy! And to come across really evil all the time, you do feel like you can’t really interact with people at rehearsals too much because then you get out of the ‘mood’ and you kind of need to stay in some kind of ‘evil fixation’ mode to stay in character.

Speaking of staying in character, do you have any tips and tricks that you use to get into the ‘Queen Avarice’ zone before a rehearsal?

I always wear quite severe make-up to rehearsals, because I feel like that makes my face and lips stand out and I feel a bit more in character. And again, not interacting too much with people – a lot of the time I just sit in a corner and read my lines to myself, pulling an evil face!

Brilliant! As those who come along to see our show will find out, the Seven Dwarfs actually used to work at the palace, until the Wicked Queen got rid of them – so which dwarf do you think really rattled her cage and pushed her over the edge?

Definitely Smiley. I think she hated Smiley the most because he was just too…well, smiley! He smiles too much. She didn’t like that.


Another silly question: if you had a real-life Magic Mirror, what would you ask it?

I would ask it how much longer I will have to wait before I can play a white mouse with the Strollers! Because it’s been almost 20 years and I’ve still not played one! I was a black mouse in Cinderella when I first started. Then I was a black rat. And then a black cat. And always a boy, too! My first female part was a fairy in Dick Whittington [2010].

What colour was your costume for that?

Purple.

Ah. Moving on…!

Reminiscing a little here, what would you say have been some of the ‘stand-out’ moments for you, since joining The Wight Strollers all the way back in September 1996?

My first part, as a 6 foot parrot [Robinson Crusoe, 2005] - Lord only knows how I have lost that costume! Then there was the time the ‘Thriller’ [Mother Goose, 2001] tunnel collapsing on about 3 or 4 of us as we were going on stage! My first principal part [Aladdin, 2009] with my best friend as principal girl, and being trusted with my first solo and duet! The horse pooing on the stage [Cinderella, 2006] was also rather memorable…

And if you had to pick an absolute favourite memory? Which would take the crown?

Performing ‘Don't Stop Me Now’ alongside Papa Jones [Elisa’s dad, Rob, who this year will be playing Sniffle the dwarf] as Herman and Horrace, with Brian Newton as the Wicked Queen [Snow White, 2008] - I just hope I do the part justice for him! It's always been one of my favourite songs anyway, and performing it with those two was a ball!

Finally, Elisa, we’d like to ask our cheesiest question: What’s the best thing about being a member of The Wight Stroller?

My favourite thing about being in the Strollers is that you open yourself up to the biggest second family, bigger than you ever thought possible! Everyone loves everybody and any stressful rehearsal becomes an extremely fun experience.

I have created lifelong friendships through the Strollers, and have played a variety of roles from acting on stage to assisting with scenery building to being part of the stage crew and even being Stage Manager. I have learned a lot through the years and it’s has helped me with many other things, like organising Global Rock Challenge and of course helping to lead our carnival entries in the summer.

There is always something on the horizon whether it's an after show party, a car treasure hunt or the next carnival. Even better, all of the work we do is for local charities, and the money raised over the years is astounding...not bad for a bunch of ‘amateurs!’

Quite so! Over £130,000 and counting – I think we can all be very proud!




To see Elisa in action as Queen Avarice, book your tickets for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, being performed at Medina Theatre on February 13th, 14th and 20th. Trust us, you won't regret it!

Monday, 4 January 2016

Tickets on sale for 'Snow White'

Tickets are officially on sale for our February pantomime, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and we've already been blown away by the speed at which they're selling.

Within the first hour, we'd sold 242 tickets and at the time of this blog being posted, just eight hours after tickets went on sale, we've hit a whopping 562 - wow!

Grab your tickets to see what all the fuss is about - we guarantee you won't be disappointed!

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is being performed at Medina Theatre on the following dates:

Saturday 13th February - 2:30pm and 7:30pm
Sunday 14th February - 2:30pm
Saturday 20th February - 2:30pm and 7:30pm

Tickets are £8 for adults and £7 for children, and can be booked via Medina Theatre Box Office by phone (01983 823884) or in person during their opening hours, which are:

Mon - Weds: 10am-6pm
Thurs - Fri: 10am-8pm
Saturday: 10am-1pm

Alternatively, you can book online at any time!

Everything we do is for local charities and not a penny leaves our beloved Island, so grab yourself a ticket (or several!) and help us to help this year's good causes, which are:

- Saturday Club for the Deaf
- The Martin Poynter Trust
- Isle of Wight Scope
- Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance

We look forward to seeing you all in February, and remember: watch this space for the latest behind-the-scenes news, pictures and updates in the run-up to the show!


Tuesday, 22 December 2015

We're Dreaming of a (Snow) White Christmas!

It's Christmas and that means our tickets go on sale in just a couple of weeks for 'Snow White and the
Seven Dwarfs' - how exciting!

The tickets go on sale Monday 4th January 2016 from Medina Theatre Box Office in person, by phone on 01983 823884 or online.

At just £8 for an adult and £7 for a child, we're proud to boast professional quality at amateur prices, and all in aid of Island charities.

So come along, join the fun and support our show - you won't regret it!

With the proceeds from our 2016 pantomime, we're thrilled to be supporting four worthy causes on the Island and they are:

- Scope (Isle of Wight)
- Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance
- The Martin Poynter Trust
- Saturday Club for the Deaf

We work so hard to keep our prices down, with both internal and external fundraising, as the cost of the theatre is rising almost faster than we can keep up - so your support is more valuable now than ever before, in order to ensure that we are able to continue giving thousands of pounds a year to local charities, all whilst entertaining the whole family and providing a place for talent of all ages to perform on our beloved Island.

It's been such a long time since our last blog post (sorry! Things got a bit hectic!) that there's a lot of news to tell, but one piece in particular of which we are hugely proud:

At the final Isle of Wight Amateur Theatre Awards ceremony in November, our 2015 production of Aladdin won 'Best Christmas Production' - a huge congratulations to our cast and crew - we couldn't be more thrilled!

As for what's next on our blog, we're about to ramp things up a gear - watch this space for weekly behind-the-scenes posts from 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' - interviews, photos and sneak peeks into how the Strollers is run, it's all to come as we move into the new year, so stay tuned!

On that note, The Wight Strollers would like to wish everyone - friends, family and supporters alike - a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

May it be filled with magic, fun, love, laughter and, of course, our pantomime! 





Monday, 12 October 2015

It's A Heigh-Ho Holiday!

Our Seven Dwarfs getting busy and dig, dig, digging in the sand!
With such a bumper year coming up in 2016 for The Wight Strollers, we decided it was time to really crack on with panto and get the publicity started early...with a much-needed holiday!

Snow White, Prince Ferdinand, Queen Avarice and all seven - that's right, all seven! - dwarfs decided to up and leave their fairytale roles for a weekend and go on holiday to a mystical beach far, far away.

In Shanklin.

Upon their return, they decided to share their holiday snaps with us. They said it would be good publicity, but we think they just wanted to make everyone jealous as they lapped up the last of this year's sunshine!

Without further ado, let's find our what our wayward characters got up to on their holiday...

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Sniffle's workmanship is not to be sneezed at!

Once everyone had gathered at Brainy's beach hut, the day began the only way any beach holiday can: with the building of a sandcastle.

And not just any sandcastle...

A Disney sandcastle.

So, with the help of our producers and honorary dwarfs for a day, Mike and Judith, the team set to work.

Complete with flags, it was quite the creation!

But it took a lot of work and a lot of sand, and tempers (namely Grumbly's) were soon starting to fray...

Mercifully, our hero Prince Ferdinand was able to wrestle the shovel away from Grumbly before any real damage was done, and our castle was saved!

Once everyone had calmed down, refreshments were in order and what do dwarfs most like to drink on their days off?

Why, 7-Up, of course!

Feeling thoroughly refreshed and ready for their next beach activity, the dwarfs took to the waves for a body-boarding lesson from Prince Ferdinand.

Sadly, though, not everyone could stay awake long enough to take advantage of the free tuition!

Wake up, Snoozy!

No? Alright, then, suit yourself.

It's not quite a horse and carriage, but it does the job!

Meanwhile, our very own Princess Snow White had far more success, although we can't help but feel like she didn't really do much of the legwork...

What it is to be a princess and have a handsome prince to come to your rescue at every turn - some people have all the luck!

Exhausted from their watersports, our characters' stomachs were starting to rumble...

All together now: "She's behind you!"
In a rare display of kindness, Queen Avarice offered to provide the snacks and everyone settled down to a nice, juicy apple.

She even pulled up a sun lounger for Snow White, so our heroine could relax in style.

Hold on a minute.

Something's wrong with this picture...

So much for turning over a new leaf - someone take that apple from Snow White before she can eat it, please!

It wouldn't do to have her sleep through all our rehearsals!


A crisis was averted when, before she could take a bite of the apple, the dwarfs spotted what the Queen was up to and turned their water pistols on the villain without hesitation!

We hope she's learned her lesson...but, somehow, we doubt it!

Given a moment's peace, Prince Ferdinand and Princess Snow White decided to retreat to their deckchairs and recline while they had the chance.

Unfortunately, it looks like Prince Ferdinand found Snow White's talk of forest creatures, wishing wells and cleaning cottages too much to handle!

Either that or he took a bite of the red apple...

...For his sake, we think he should go with the latter explanation!

When the dwarfs finally returned, with Queen Avarice in tow, Snow White took it upon herself to wake the prince with one of their water pistols. Let's hope she never needs waking up from an apple-induced sleep - he might be tempted to deviate from the story and take revenge!

With their holiday coming to a close, Snow White finally managed to negotiate a truce between the dwarfs and Queen Avarice, and they returned to their beloved sandcastle for one last group photo before heading home.

A Happy Holiday with the cast of 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs'

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We would like to thank Amanda and Allan Gregory for the use of their beach hut, breakfast and the many inflatables, body-boards, buckets and spades they so generously provided. To Allan, too, a huge thank-you for taking such wonderful photos of the holiday!

We would also like to thank the team at Smallhope Beach, Shanklin, for being so accommodating, our producers - Mike Squibb and Judith Day - for building the sandcastle, Karen Cassford for co-ordinating all seven dwarfs, and BlackMilk Clothing for the Snow White swimming costume.

Finally, a huge thank-you to our wonderful cast members for giving up their Saturday and getting into the spirit of the day with so much enthusiasm.