Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Springtime with the Strollers

Firstly, we'd like to apologise for being AWOL on the blog for a while - but we're back, after a busy couple of months, with lots of exciting things to tell you!

Back in April, we not only began rehearsals for Joseph, in collaboration with St Peter's Church, Shorwell, but we also had our AGM, where each year we give money away to our chosen charities.

This year, we were thrilled to match last year's total and give away £6,500 to our charities; after such a huge rise in the price of the theatre, we had to work especially hard this year to ensure that we sold out, in order for our charities not to take the hit. And we did it! We sold a whopping 2,049 tickets over our five shows, so thank-you to every single person who bought a ticket or helped us to promote Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

As a result, at our AGM on Wednesday 20th April, we were able to donate £500 to Saturday Club for the Deaf, £1,500 to Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance, £2,000 to the Martin Poynter Trust and £2,500 to Isle of Wight Scope.

A wonderful result and a huge final congratulations to Team Snow White on all the hard work that went into putting on such a successful pantomime.


Also on the agenda for the meeting was committee nominations and the election of a director for our 2017 pantomime.

Geoff Cox - our Vice-President - made the difficult decision to stand down from committee after many years of dedicated service. A hugely valued member of the Strollers family, his presence will certainly be missed at meetings. We are, however, delighted to welcome Nick Weightman (last seen strutting his stuff with a hoover, next to be seen sporting a glorious Technicolor dreamcoat!) onto the team.

There were two nominations for our 2017 director: Sarah Scotcher and Grumbly the Dwarf. The company unanimously voted Grumbly, until we found out that Smiley had filled in the nomination form on Grumbly's behalf, as a practical joke!

With no other choice, we were forced to vote again and Sarah came out on top - congratulations, Sarah!

We also raised £52 at the AGM with our games of Bingo and Family Fortunes - there's never a dull moment at a Strollers meeting!

Following on from this fantastic meeting, with Joseph rehearsals going swimmingly and our coffee morning raising £203 towards show costs, we leapt into May with a spring in our step.

Our next fundraiser was a Barn Dance at Shorwell Parish Hall, which raised a huge £285 towards Joseph.

A huge thanks to Geoff and June Cox for calling so brilliantly, to Tony Scotcher for paying for the hire of the hall, to Shorwell Social Club for running the bar, and to everyone who attended and made it such a brilliant evening!

As we continue into May, we're busier than ever and working towards a summer of music, fun and laughter...and, of course, our much-anticipated carnival entry, the theme of which will be...revealed at our first carnival outing! Watch this space!

In the meantime, we'll see you at Medina Theatre this July and please do keep an eye on the blog, as well as on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for all the latest news and updates.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Feedback, Round 2!

Well, what a second weekend we had! Completely sold out and the positive feedback has once more been flooding in since this time last week - so we thought we'd share a few more of the wonderful things people have been saying about our production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

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"It was the first time we'd seen a performance by you all and it was truly unique. My son hasn't stopped talking about it, [we] can't wait for July!"
- Laura Smith

"Fantastic show - well done."
- Susan Coquio

"Thank-you so much for a fantastic show tonight, we loved it."
- Caroline B Ritchie
"Thank-you so much to cast and crew for another brilliant performance last night! It was hilarious and entertaining as always, and even the two 14-year-olds that I had with me loved it and yelled and clapped along with the rest of us. We absolutely love the Strollers shows, we always leave with a big grin and dried tears of laughter on our cheeks. We will be back for next year's panto and we will see you all in July for Joseph."
- Lou Hewison

"A great show again, I came on Saturday afternoon. Def[initely] didn't disappoint, [it] was great. Loved it and so did my nieces, who are still talking about it now - great job, guys!"
- Samantha Stean

"Thank-you for our magical afternoon from 8th Ryde Brownies, we had a fantastic time and hope you like our photos - see you next year!"
- Caroline Seaward

"Another bloody amazing production. They just get better and better. Love the adult humour. Nice to see some new faces, which means it is still going to be the best panto on the Island for a good few years. What can you say about Sarah's performance apart from 'brilliant as usual!' - can't wait to see Joseph in July. Well done to you all!"
- Lynda Waddams

"Every year, me and my fiance come down to support The Wight Strollers. Having taken part in many shows before moving to London, I must say I truly miss it. A cheeky little shout out to my mummy, Karen Cassford, who somehow manages to work full time, organise, design and create endless number of incredible costumes. And Cheryl Rudd, absolutely incredible choreography! It is just such a pleasure to watch all the beautiful dancers as well - watching them grow into lovely young ladies! An incredible cast and an incredible director - well done, Wight Strollers! Standing ovation!"
- Hannah Cassford

"Thank-you for a wonderful pantomime!"
- Sandra Ma Davies

"The Wight Strollers put on an awesome performance this evening...laughed so much! Well done, all! Very well done!"
- Julie Anne Harris

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We'd also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who supported us - whether that was by liking one of our Facebook posts, sharing our event, putting up a poster or, of course, coming to the show itself - we couldn't have done this without every single one of you!

We will be announcing our charity totals in April, so watch this space!

In the meantime, if you enjoyed Snow White - or if you missed out and want another chance to see us in action - then visit the Medina Theatre website and book tickets for Joseph - they're already selling fast!

As always, please visit our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages to keep up to date on the everyday happenings of The Wight Strollers.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Feedback, Round 1!

Well, our first weekend is done and dusted - three shows down and only two to go! We were absolutely thrilled to play to three packed houses, and to such warm, appreciative (and loud!) audiences, so a huge thank-you from us goes to everyone who has supported Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs so far.

 Here's a selection of the feedback we've received on Facebook so far...

"Thank-you to The Wight Strollers for a fantastic afternoon, from 6th Newport (St John's) Cubs - it was brilliant!"
- Caroline Seaward

"Brilliant panto performance tonight, guys - well done!!"
- Holly Michelle Marsden

 "Well, just watched the afternoon performance and we all really enjoyed it... Queen Avarice was brilliant, a true star...well done, guys!"
- Donna Smith

"Thank you for a fabulous show...we had a wonderful time and enjoyed every second."
- Jo Lofthouse

"Well done, Wight Strollers. Another fantastic pantomime which did not disappoint! I laughed so much that my ribs ache now. Absolutely brilliant. Fantastic work from all, off and on stage."
- Fern Alexander


"What a wonderful show. So proud of you all. It was great to watch but really missed being there with you. Congratulations to you all and good luck for the rest of the performances."
- Jane Spurgeon

"Absolutely BRILLIANT!"
- Viv Cowen


"Thank-you for another great show, Macie & her friends had a fabulous time with lots of laughter, well behaved and a credit to thier parents, what a great way to have a birthday party - see you all again soon!"smile emoticoee you again soon
- Dana Edkins

"Absolutely brilliant!"
- Elaine Emu Whillier

"We had a most wonderful evening last night watching your fantastic pantomime. From the costumes, dancing, singing and great jokes, you were all like professionals. We know David Kast and loved all his changes of dress, especially the picnic dress and headdress. Elisa was excellent and we still love her! Bowled over by the 'I Want To Break Free' piece. Thank-you for my birthday mention. A birthday evening to remember. Good luck with the rest of your shows!"
- Kim Read

"Another great pantomime!"
- Heather Woodfield

"Fabulous show tonight - well done all, sure you could tell just how much the audience loved it!"
- John Kerr

 "The show last night was amazing, I enjoyed every second of it. Well done to all!"
- Alison Clarke

"It was amazing!"
- Claire Poynter

"It was absolutely fantastic and my son is still talking about it."
- Katie Bond

Wow! Thank-you, everyone, for sharing such wonderful feedback with us! 

We were also privileged to welcome Joe Bear from the Joe Ellis Trust to our Saturday performances; he took to the stage in his very own costume and blew the crowd away! So another big thank-you must go to Joe Bear (and his mum for letting him come to play with us!) for being such a star, both on and off stage.

Tickets for our final two shows this weekend are sold out - except for three individual seats! - but if you want to be added to the waiting list then please give the Medina Theatre a call on 01983 823884.

Or you can get ahead of the game and book now for our next exciting project...

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!