DYW: Willingdon - February 9, 2011

TREASURE Island: This was Willingdon Church Players’ 43rd annual pantomime and was directed and produced by Mike Barber, Babs Owen and Rowena Brady. The accompanist was Val Stumbles, with Jonathan Cornell on percussion.

The stars of the show at the Friday night performance, were Marion Noble’s two grandchildren Sam aged five and Louis eight.

They were sitting in the front row of the hall and their squeals of laughter were infectious.

Even when the ‘baddie’ Long John Silver (Mike Barber) was doing his best to terrify all, you could hear the two children giggling and calling out - which led to a lot of ad libbing such as ‘here, take these sweets and chew them slowly’ and ‘shouldn’t you have been going to the matinee’?

But the pantomime flowed very smoothly with no awkward pauses, and tremendous acting, singing and dancing from everyone. If you have ever read Treasure Island - well forget it, it wasn’t like that!

The first scene takes place in The Admiral Benbow Inn, run by Ma Hawkins (Paul Martin), with son Jim (Breanna Hyde) and comedy duo Billy Brass (Liam Avery) and Nicky Knuckles (Luke Martin).

Squire Trelawny (Alan Benstead) wants his rent and is not happy about his daughter Felicity’s (Natasha Cornell) friendship with Jim, as he is poor.

Barmaids Martha (Ellen Humphreys) and Molly (Ella Sayer) sing ‘wouldn’t it be lovely’ - beautiful voices.

Lodger Billy Bones has left without paying rent but there is a paper in his room with a blackspot on it along with a chest with a map to show where the treasure is hidden. The story continues with Squire Trelawny chartering a schooner, the Hispaniola, to look for the treasure. Captain Corker’un (Rose Hardwick) is to steer the boat with an all-male crew including Jim.

But not to be outdone, Ma Hawkins and Felicity board the boat wearing false beards and even the captain turns out to be a woman in disguise. Long John Silver is in pursuit and his parrot Polly (Pam Martin) is another scene stealer – a female version of Victor Meldew!

Treasure Island is inhabited by Robinson Crusoe (Fr Martin Onions) who has no desire to be rescued. His every need is provided by Girl Friday (Sheila Markham) and girls Monday to Thursday (Lesley Etwell, Sue Standen, Val Cheesman and Julia Paul), and the chorus and showgirls Rowena Brady and Babs Owen are there to dance for him – great dancing and very amusing.

Furthermore Crusoe has already found the treasure and built himself a casino with it. But The Fairy Godmother (Chris Tucknott) is always there to lend a hand with a bit of stardust and a few rhyming couplets,

Long John Silver ends up in Davy Jones’s Locker; romance blossoms between Felicity and Jim; and between Ma Hawkins and Squire Trelawny.

And Robinson Crusoe, who is busy on a Sunday, has found his Girl Saturday in Captain Corker’un.

The finale, Crusoe’s cabaret performance, is terrific, with Fr Martin’s ‘give ‘em the old razzle dazzle’ accompanied by some very talented young dancers.

It was a most enjoyable evening with a many people helping in various ways. John Pritchett produced some wonderful scenery assisted by Peter Davey, Paul Eaton, and David and Sheila Markham. Wardrobe mistress was Chris Tucknott assisted by Ruth Price.

The costumes were amazing; lighting provided by Charles Percy and Peter Boxall and the prompters were Iona Taylor and Sheila Pullen.

TRINITY Church in Coppice Avenue is available for hire for concerts and other appropriate functions. For anything less formal, there is the large church hall as well as two smaller meeting rooms. Kitchen facilities and toilets with access for disabled people are available. Details on 07901 971527.

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STRICTLY Come Dancing: The next 10 week sessions of ‘Strictly come dancing’ begin today (Wednesday) at Willingdon Community School. For more details ring Jane on 508895.

JEVINGTON and Filching WI meets at 2pm tomorrow (Thursday) at Trinity Church Hall Coppice Avenue. The speaker Jo Sands will be talking about ‘life on the wicked stage’. Visitors are always welcome.

THE Garden Growers Group meets at 6.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at The Wheatsheaf in Willingdon Village. The next meeting is tomorrow (Thursday) .

LOCAL history: Polegate and Willingdon Local History Society meets on Friday, February 11, 7pm to 9pm at John’s Church Hall, Polegate. The speaker is Phil Gardner and his subject The Cuckmere Valley. Visitors are welcome. The cost is £2.

THE VALENTINE Day special celebration meals for February 12 and 14 are fully booked at the Red Lion in Willingdon Village and the monthly Red Lion on-tour evenings, when chef Alan Grindle prepares an authentic menu from a particular country, are also very popular.

Two course lunches are available from Monday to Friday. The cost to pensioners is just £5.50.

TRIANGLE Lace Club will meet at Trinity Church hall Coppice Avenue from 10am-2pm on Saturday, February 12. There is a trade stand with lace supplies and equipment, and guidance on the art of lace. The cost, including tea and coffee, is £2.50. More details from Rowena Gausden on 484165.

CANCER Support: A cancer support group is held at St Wilfrid’s Church in Broad Road, Willingdon, on the third Tuesday of the month starting at 2.30pm. The next meeting is on February 15. Call 483087 for details.

LUNCH Club: A monthly lunch club starts at Trinity Church Hall in Coppice Avenue on Friday, February 18 - noon to 2pm. Trinity Diners are invited to just turn up.

As it is difficult to know just how many will be there, it has been decided to serve sandwiches, soup and cake on this occasion, as more can easily be prepared if necessary.

The lunch club will then meet on the third Friday of each month.