Thursday 16Th Feb
Fun and frolics again thisa week. Mostly Lunchtime performances, allowing our company to head into town to see their share of shows after we finish at 5pm. These past few days have seen our lot visit “Wicked”, “Kite Runner”, “Kinky Boots” and the opening of a new Leon Restaurant with singing staff- in most cases the away team headed by Andrew Robley!
Visitors this week include Annie Galbraith, with her friend Audrey Butler, down from Royal Tunbridge Wells!
Annie is no stranger to these walls. Her years of working alongside her dearest friend Danny La Rue saw her at this and the previous Brick Lane Music Halls over the years. Lovely to see her once again, and indeed to see Mark Hinton.
Mark has just designed the settings for The Wilton’s Music Hall Pantomime, directed by Debbie Flitcroft and starring her equally talented hubby, Roy Hudd as Mother Goose.
The place is packed as always, and finally the weather is giving us the slightest hint of a possibility of Spring! Its lighter later as we leave after the show each day. We’ve had parties from Dover, Chatham, Luton, Yorkshire and all over this weekm, and a great reception. Vincent received a gift for the Music Hall today on stage from a party to celebrate Twenty Five Years of Music Hall.
we’ve seen a lot of David Harvey this week at the piano, along with Martin and Andy, with Matt (Pallant) joining us on Friday once again. Our visitors today (Thursday) included Chris Draper, a regular BLMH performer (aand fellow Panto performer here last year in “Jack”) along with Pantomime producers/agents Jamie Wilson and Simon Cossons joined by Josette Amos.
Lucy recently appeared in “Jack & The Beanstalk” at Gravesend Panto for these gents and their “Magic Beans” panto company. Lucy played Princess alongside Antony Costa as Fleshcreep, Leanne Jones as Fairy and Robert Pearce as Dame Trott. They also produce the Sevenoaks Panto. Josette has played Fairy in Panto, and in “The Pirates Of Treasure Island” for Magic Beans.
The Story Of Sleeping Beauty in Pantomime differs a bit from that original French Perrault story I mentioned in a previous blog. Here’s a brief guide (for those interested!) in the Pantomime versions past and present based on Perrault’s original tale.
The Pantomime version of “The Sleeping Beauty” tells the story as outlined by Perrault, and often follows this plot:
The Panto often opens with the Christening Scene. The Bad fairy gives her curse, and vanishes. The Good Fairy casts her spell- that the Princess will not die, but sleep for one hundred years. In some versions the pantomime opens with the Princess’s birthday party, and the christening scene is performed as a “flash-back”- the Fairy telling us what happened in the past.
The next scene is usually set outside the Palace, and celebrates the forthcoming birthday of the Princess. Generally it is her eighteenth birthday, but it can also be her sixteenth birthday. The King is seen to be banning all spinning wheels from the realm.
The Princess often has a friend, sometimes a jester, sometimes a lad who works in the Palace kitchens.- the comic. In “Sleeping Beauty” The Dame was traditionally the Queen, and sometimes (especially more recently) the dame can often be the nursemaid to the Princess, or her nanny. On odd occasions there have been two dames- both Queen and Nursemaid.
There are two differences to the original Perrault story- when the Princess encounters the spinning wheel in the palace, it has generally been placed there, and is being worked by the Evil Fairy. She witnesses the Princess prick her finger, and leaves believing she has triumphed.
The other main difference to Perrault’s version, and the version of “Sleeping Beauty” the ballet is the Prince. It is not really economical to employ an actor as Principal boy, and then not let him enter until Act two.- Although this has been done. Generally the plot is worked so that the Prince arrives to attend the Princess’s birthday party, they meet, fall in love and are able to sing a duet or two before she pricks her finger and falls asleep.
Whatever happens, of course, they cannot kiss in Act One! That would ruin the plot- after all, it is “Love’s First Kiss” that will awaken her in Act Two!
By working the plot, the Princess sleeps, and the Good Fairy casts a spell to make everyone else fall asleep for one hundred years. The Prince is often kept away from the Palace so he does not get affected by her spell. Act one usually finishes with a tableaux- the Sleeping Beauty and the court starting to fall asleep.
In Act Two- remembering that the story is almost finished- there is often a device where the Prince, aided by the Good Fairy will travel through time- one hundred years into the future. He is often given a magic sword by the Good Fairy, and has to cut his way through the thorns that spring up around the Palace- created by the Bad Fairy’s magic.
He enters the Castle and wakes the Princess with a kiss. This however is often too near the start of Act Two to finish the pantomime, and all that remains is to defeat the Wicked Fairy. Often there is a sub-plot: The Prince, or Princess may be kidnapped by the Evil Fairy- the comedy characters- Dame, Comic and King might well go to her Lair to seek the kidnapped Boy or Girl.
Sometimes the influence of Disney is felt, and the Bad Fairy will “transform” into a dragon, and be slain by the Prince. Evil is defeated, true love has won through, and the pantomime ends- happily ever after.
There are no straight forward traditional character names for “Sleeping Beauty”
Perrault gave the Princess the name “AURORA”-as beautiful as the dawn, but she can be called ROSE, or BRIAR-ROSE. She has had many names including “PRINCESS BEAUTY”, (Prince & Emile Littler’s pantomimes, Drury Lane 1920’s, Lyceum 1933) “PRINCESS MELANIE” (Palladium * again 1964)PRINCESS SABRINA, amongst others. In general the most common name for her would seem to be PRINCESS BEAUTY.
Again, there is no set traditional name. Perrault called him PRINCE FLORIMOND, he has also been called PRINCE FLORIZEL, PRINCE HAL, PRINCE RUDOLPH, PRINCE MICHAEL, PRINCE SILVERTHISTLE (The Emile & Prince Littler pantomimes that had a Scottish Waterfall scene) THE PRINCE OF CALEDONIA, but in General the name PRINCE FLORIZEL seems to be the most common. Today it is more than likely that Florizel would be dropped in favour of less “florid” names, and he might well be a Prince Michael, William or possibly even Harry! In Our version at the Brick Lane he is The Prince of Dover. Ben to his friends!
THE BAD FAIRY:
Disney named her MALEFICENT– a copyrighted character name, and she has frequently been called CARABOSSE– the character in the Ballet version of “The Sleeping Beauty”. She has also been named simply “THE WITCH”, “THE WICKED FAIRY”, SOMNIA, (in the Littler pantomimes) MALIGNA (Drury Lane) FURIOSA, FURIOSO, but overall the most common name is CARABOSSE. She is almost always described in Programmes as “A Witch”- she is, in fact just a Fairy who has gone to “The Dark Side!” At Brick Lane she is Deadly Nightshade!
THE GOOD FAIRY:
Mostly she is simply referred to as “THE GOOD FAIRY”, but she has been named at various times “FLORIZEL-guardian of Fairyland”, FAIRY ROSEYDAWN, “FAIRY STARDUST”, “FAIRY CLARIBEL” and “FAIRY FLORA” among other names. She has even been called “FAIRY GODMOTHER”, which, of course, she is! At Brick Lane she is called Fairy Nuff.
Traditionally the Dame was the Queen, and is most often referred to as “THE QUEEN”. She has also become “QUEEN QUIBBLINA” (Littler pantos) “QUEEN GUINEVERE” and “THE QUEEN OF HEARTS”. In one recent pantomime the King and Queen were “KING RICHARD & QUEEN JUDY”-nice to see panto keeping up with the times! Here at Brick Lane she is called Nanny Fanny!
When the Dame is not the Queen, she has had various names- none of them traditional- they range from “DAME DOLLY”, “NURSE NELLY” and recently “DAME DOT COM!”
Most often referred to as simply “THE KING”, he has at times been known as “KING ROLO BOLO”, “KING SATUPON”, even “OLD KING COLE”- drawing from the nursery rhyme. Since Perrault did not name him, his name is also not a traditional one. At The Music Hall he is called King Thrustalot!
In some versions of “Sleeping Beauty” the chief comic is the court jester. He has been called “PRESTO THE JESTER”, or CUTHBERT THE JESTER”, he has been a page- “RUDOLPH THE PAGE” and when he works in the Palace kitchens, he is most frequently known as “MUDDLES”. That is his name here At The Music Hall.