The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad
Seven legendary voyages was enough for Sinbad! Settled and content in the Caliph’s grand capital of Ham’shar, fabulously rich, praised by all and about to marry the lovely Princess Karimah, life is good for the famous hero. So good that when he is summoned to far-famed London by the Queen herself, he is reluctant to leave it all for the high seas once more. Then again, what’s the worst that could happen…?
So off he sails on another adventure, side by side with his fiancé. Along for the journey (and the retail opportunities) is the Lady Wisteria, a woman who makes up for her bad luck in love with vigorous determination, and the illustrious Ambassador hopelessly caught up in her advances. The future seems bright for them all, filled as it is with fascinating new people, exciting new places, and bountiful new shops. Yet their ship carries a more sinister passenger, intent on the ruin of them all. The dastardly Sarouk plots and schemes, and keeps his covetous eye on the man he has
declared his nemesis – Sinbad himself! Before long, the tentacles of the villain’s plan start to wrap themselves around the sorry band. Can they outwit the fiend and make it back to Ham’Shar alive and sane?
What follows is a breakneck tale of storms and sea monsters, heartbreak and heroism.
Sinbad the Sailor – Hugo Henche
Princess Karimah – Charlotte Evans
Dame Wisteria – Tony Knox
Sarouk – Ian Francis
Hustle – Ian Worsfold
Bustle – Chris Blackburn
The Ambassador – George Kelly
Simple Simone – Maxine McKay
Captain James Jams – Paul Riddy
Captain Jack Daws – Jan Webber
The Caliph of Ham’shar/London obby – Tony Watson
The Queen – Lynda Collins
Chorus – Anna Field, Swetha Sriraman
Amelia Marques, Charlotte Silverthorne, Eliza Green, Emily Taylor, Florence Green, Gracie Freeman, Jasmine Plumb, Lillian Langdale, Lillie Angell, Rhianna Andrews, Rosie Birkert, Ruby Langdale, Scarlet Robinson
Director – Marina Coleman-Rivers
Assistant Director – Tom Monkhouse
Stage Manager – Dave Winfield
Choreographer – Tom Langdale
Assistant Choreographer – Swetha Sriraman
Lighting & Sound Technicians – Dave & Kate Maltby
Set Design – Nick Shadlock, Dave Winfield
Stage Crew – Friends of St Neots Players
Properties – James Goodman
Costumes – Isobella Coleman
Publicity – Glenys Shaw, Richard Fitt & Paul Riddy
Artwork – TimPowersDesign
Programme – TimPowersDesign
Photography – Christine Suggars & TimPowersDesign (artwork photography)
Front of House Manager – Richard Fitt
Front of House Team – Members of VAMPS & St Neots Players
Box Office – Richard Fitt & The Priory Centre
What a wonderful way to enter the festive season with a trip to the pantomime. St Neots’ Players offered The Eighth Voyage Of Sinbad, written by Bob Hammond and directed by Marina Coleman-Rivers. The audience was full of families waiting to be entertained – and entertained we most certainly were! The story follows on from the more familiar seven voyages of Sinbad and tells of his next adventure as he travels to London to meet the Queen with his Princess. They are soon to be married but the evil Sarouk has other plans – and so the story unfolds.
The opening number was impressive and set the bar high right from the start. The excellent children from Langdale Dance Arts performed some lovely choreography here to open the show – well done kids, a super job throughout, some great moves and super costumes – as they whisked the audience to the far off land of Ham’shar. Here we met the comedy double act of Hustle and Bustle, beautifully played by Ian Worsfold and Chris Blackburn. Some lovely comic moments from these two as the panto progressed and I particularly enjoyed Chris’ comedy raps! Their mast scene was well written and beautifully delivered, a super job! We are also introduced to the lovely Princess Karimah, played by Charlotte Evans, who gave us a lovely solo song later on and our hero Sinbad, Hugo Henche, who was a expert thigh-slapper throughout the show! The scheming Sarouk, played by Ian Francis, had just the right amount of evil to provoke boos and hisses from the audience each time he appeared. To counterbalance this, Tony Knox’s Dame Wisteria had everyone laughing at her antics (I loved the ‘I’m Every Woman” number) – as did Simple Simone, beautifully played by Maxine McKay, who was determined to tell us her joke about the two lobsters. The Ambassador, played by George Kelly, was a great character and was portrayed brilliantly, with lovely diction and attention to detail. Captain Jim Jams, Paul Ruddy, again provided many comedy moments, along with Jan Webber as Captain Jack Daws. Also notable were Lynda Collins as The Queen and Tony Watson as The Caliph of Ham’shar.
Congratulations must go to set designer, Dave Winfield. Each scene was impressive, with great backdrops (both painted and projected) and scenery to help set the scene for the audience. Particularly impressive was the scenery on board the ship and the underwater scenes. This was also enhanced by the superb lighting and special effects throughout the show, which added to the atmosphere and brought each scene to life. The strobe lighting in the chase scene was very effective. There were some lovely sound effects and snippets of music used, all of which added to the show, however I would have liked these to have been faded out rather than being stopped so abruptly each time. I felt that this halted the flow and was somewhat distracting. There were also some issues with scene changes, which seemed to take rather longer than was necessary, whether it was waiting for a curtain to come across or simply waiting for the next character to come on – and again, this interrupted the flow of the piece for me. I did feel that perhaps the whole show could have picked up the pace a little, with lines delivered with a bit more determination – you can afford to be more ‘over the top’ with your characterisation in pantomime and I felt that this would have created a more punchy result. Every one of the actors on stage were very capable of this – you are all very able performers. Now have the confidence to believe in yourselves and go out there and show the audience what you can do! Take control, and take us all on that journey with you. This was particularly evident in the musical numbers, where a little more confidence would have helped enormously. Don’t worry if you feel that you don’t have the best voice in the world – this is panto and you are playing a pantomime character. Belt out your number with gusto and the audience will be right behind you.
A stand out scene for me was Hustle and Bustle dressed as sharks. Cries of “It’s behind you” as the sharks stalked Dame Wisteria showed that the audience were loving it too. The storm scene was lovely with a brilliant choice of song here as our characters all sang, “Danger, danger” and the Under The Sea number – again, some lovely work from the children here. The cannonball fight between each side of the audience was a nice touch and had everyone on their feet. I was thrilled to be on the winning side!
As the show neared it’s end we were delighted to see that everyone lived happily ever after and Sinbad and the Princess finally got married. The evil Sarouk was brought out for the bows in an orange prison suit and handcuffs to more boos and hisses, and there was a great party atmosphere as we all joined in with “Merry Christmas Everyone” whilst dancing in the aisles with cast members. This show had everything you want from a great panto: great characters, silly jokes, pop songs, a traditional pantomime dame and some great audience participation including a singalong and even a cannonball fight. Did the audience have a good time at St Neots’ Players’ Sinbad? OH YES WE DID!