Arr Jim lad...a panto to really treasure

Treasure Island and the Se7en Deadly Frenchmen
Treasure Island and the Se7en Deadly Frenchmen
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Treasure Island and the Se7en Deadly Frenchmen, Ribchester Amateur Theatrical Society, Ribchester Village Hall

Enthusiastic audiences greeted the first weekend of the latest offering from Ribchester Amateur Theatrical Society ( RATS ).

The pantomime with the intriguing title was written and directed by local RATS regular, William Thomas.

William has been treading the boards for the past 15 years or so and this is the second panto script from his fertile mind– this is his 25th RATS Production and he’s still only 24!

This year’s offering puts a 20-strong cast on stage, Treasure Island relies heavily on a young cast with some experienced old hands on boardas well. Not that the youngsters are inexperienced, as their performances showed. Some of these fine young actors have been singing, dancing and acting through several RATS productions in the recent past.

Difficult as it may be to single out from this youthful ensemble, special mention must go to Martin Smith (pictured) for his new and hilarious take on Long John Silver, complete, and sometimes 
incomplete, with, and without, parrot. His timing and dancing are worth the entrance money alone.

But there are also stand-out performances from Chrissie Collinson, Paul Bell, Emma Smith as the leading Frenchman and her excellent cohorts, Olivia and Sam Soper. Also featuring is a side-splitting cameo from Connor Nutter as an incoherent Captain Haddock look alike. But believe me, they’re all good. They obviously enjoy the show and make sure the audience does, too. Not that we should forget the older Rats either. Dave Procter donning the wig and padded bra again as the Dame keeps us and the story moving on and copes brilliantly with a wardrobe malfunction!

Tony Woolmington doubles up as Bill Bones and a delightfully camp Cannibal Chief. Steven Johnson, cornering the market in fiendish baddies, follows on from his performance last year as the Big Bad Wolf, to do a bravura turn as a cross between Jack Sparrow and Adam Ant as Captain Blackbeard.

Splendid costumes, modern and classic pop music, energetic dancing, good use of the off-stage space and audience participation all play their part in making this a very new traditional panto.

You still have a chance to see it, this week, at Ribchester Village Hall on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and (February 4-6) with a 2pm matinee in Saturday, Ribchester Village Hall. Tickets from (01254)878530.

Keith Flood