Photographs from the Headley Theatre Club production of Puss in Boots, January 2006

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Before it all began …

Constructing the Boot – which Chieftain tank is short of wheel bolts?
Painting the backdrops on the village hall floor
First backdrop up!
Puss practises catching a rat!
Press photo of the Baddies – 'Baddies stole the show', Bordon Post
Orcs on the loose!

Photos taken by John Owen Smith at performances:—

Act 1

You came, I didn't think you would – Lesley Mather as Bad Puss
Don't forget he's mine as well – Kay McGregor as Good Puss
Mo Cooke as Good Puss, Rod Sharp as Bad Puss
Busy doing nothing
Look for the silver lining
Can I purrchance help you gentlemen? – Puss to Bad 1 and Set 2
'Illegal do mean a sick bird!' – Mavis Standing and Wendy Downs as Yokels
Teach the world to sing – Puss and the children
We'd rather be down at the Crown – Jill, Widow and Jack
Cut it off in its prime! – King to Humphrey
Call the court physician! – Queen and chorus
The situation has now become desperate – Queen to Princess Lucinda
Friendship – Puss and Princess Lucinda
Teddy Bears' picnic – spooky chorus

Act 2

Most unusual day
Beyond the village boundary
Why don't you go for a paddle? – Puss to Widow, at the River
Lucinda, look the other way! – King Dennis considers his daughter's sensibilities, at the River
Lord Humphrey was it, or Sir? – Widow to Humphrey, at the River
A lion? No problem, just watch – the Ogre's transformation!
Mr Ogre, you should not have been so purrsuadable! – the demise of the Rat
Touch the token – it's all yours! – Puss ponders the rights and wrongs of life
One could almost be in Grayshott! – says Queen Margaret
Lucy, would you be prepared to share my humble castle with me? – Charlie to Lucinda
You're the one that I want! – the Widow gets her man!!
Oh, what a beauty!! – King Dennis and his marrow
The finale – stage right
The finale – stage left
Not forgetting Jo the Piano!

Press reports for Puss in Boots, January 2006

Hooked on panto now, thanks to Puss in Boots

The world of pantomime is virtually non existent in the States, so when I, an American newly living in Britain, was asked to see and review the Headley Theatre club's Puss in Boots by Jo Smith, I wasn't sure what to expect. Everywhere I had turned in the last two months, all I had heard was: "Oh, yes it is! - Oh, no it isn't!" and by this time I was eager to see what it was all about.

I took my seat somewhat apprehensively - Would I regret sitting too close to the front? Would a Dame Edna lookalike drag me onto the stage? Finally, choosing a seat three rows back but with a good view of the stage, I felt safe.

Lesley Mather took the stage as Bad Puss and with her proclamation of: "I think you should see evil triumph over good!" I was hooked.

We soon met Charlie and the Widow Marzipan, the main characters, played by Caroline Potter and Laurie Lewis, who were exceptional in their roles - making us laugh and connect with them. I was sad to learn that both will be leaving the theatre club in 2006.

Jack and Jill (Ruth Beasley and Ashleigh Keech) played their roles well, despite heckling from friends in the audience.

Surprisingly, the most enjoyable characters of the performance turned out to be Bad 1 and Set 2, the villains of the story. With their twenties-era gangster costumes and slapstick routine, Paul Kosinski and Daniel Radford had the audience eating out of their hands. Radford displays an amount of charm, charisma, and ability that any professional would be hard-pressed to match.

'Big Boot' the ogre, voiced by Matthew Powell, certainly came down with a thump when our heroes didn't watch out, or refused to pay up. And while his henchmen may not be so vicious, do be mindful of the orcs, as they do a mean break dance.

While Vicky Chappell, as Puss in Boots, may have had some trouble with her lines, she had no problem bringing this feisty and scheming character to life. This production may have fallen flat on its face without 'his' purrr-fect plot that led to a happy ending for all. Well, except maybe the ogre... and quite possibly Bad Puss, but I'll leave you to see who triumphs there...

Though the music effectively drowned out all singing, and the senior chorus itself appeared to be dreading an appointment with the dentist, if the looks on their faces are anything to go by, with a well-done set, fantastic costumes and great acting, I would recommend Puss in Boots as a treat for the whole family. And not just because Widow Marzipan gave us candy.

This American definitely can't wait for panto season to start again.

Erin Garvey, Bordon Post, 18th January 2006

Headley enjoys a purrfect performance of Puss in Boots

Audiences as far away as New York have enjoyed John Owen (Jo) Smith's version of "Puss in Boots" - last Saturday's Headley's audience lapped it up. Jo's scripts always combine traditional business (not overdone) with eye-catching originals. In this case, some very energetic orcs, supported by special lighting and sound, supplied by Helen Coyte and Martin Wellen.

The story begins with Bad Puss (Rod Sharp) and Good Puss (Mo Cooke) [Lesley Mather and Kay McGregor on alternate performances], the former reprising a role created by him in 1989. Next we are "down at Mill" - where else, being Headley. Here we soon meet Widow Marzipan, Charlie her son, Jack and Jill and the ubiquitous Puss.

Laurie Lewis, a popular and talented player was making a farewell performance this year as the Widow - she will be much missed by all. The "boys" Charlie (Caroline Potter) and Jack (Ruth Beasley) were believable, and the rapport established with Lucinda (Sian Lewis) and Jill (Ashleigh Keech) was strong throughout.

Although the action started rather slowly, the pace soon picked up, ably abetted by slick work backstage led by Paul Heath. Both senior chorus and junior chorus were soon in action, singing and acting with precision. The music side, as always, owed much to the tried and tested trio of musicians in the capable hands of Jo and Martin Levy with Tim Barnett's fancy stick work on percussion. Jo Smith is good at spreading his dialogue around the cast, as well as fitting new lyrics to some numbers.

With such a large cast (over 40), action spread from the stage to the Hall floor with good effect - Dil Williamson made sure of that. Perhaps the Principal Boy and Principal Girl would benefit by more movement and use of the stage.

The Ogre (Matthew Powell) put the boot in (literally) from time to time: his henchmen (Paul Kosinski and Daniel Radford) looking like escapees from a B movie gangster flick - but much more Lavender Hill mob than the Bronx.

The King (John McGregor) was far more at home in a Gardener's World than in "Fantasia", but the Queen (Pru Harrold) made sure he kept to the real plot. Humphrey, the Major Domo (Peter Glinn)did not long escape the attentions of the Widow. Both Laurie and Peter led the inevitable community song and action piece with commendable restraint. This was a feature of all musical numbers - punchy and powerful. A novel touch was provided by Yokels (Wendy Downs and Mavis Standing) with more than a nod to a certain 2 R's.

Last, but by no means least, the pivotal role of Puss; Vicky Chappell had the stage presence to fit this part without overstepping the mark - quite the cat's whiskers indeed. The cats' makeup was realistic and the colourful costumes (Dil, Laurie, Mo, and Caroline Hardy) always added spice. One set worn by the some of the senior chorus put one in mind of the Lyons Corner House Nippies - anybody remember them?

Saturday's audience will remember Headley's 54th pantomime, with great expectations for the 55th.

Puss will be doing his feline fun again on Friday 20th and Saturday 21st January at Headley Village Hall. The final evening performance is already sold out, but tickets are still available for the performances at 8 pm on Friday 20th and at 2.30 pm on Saturday 21st January from 01428 712892 or www.headley-village/drama.

Report by Stan Sharp as submitted to the Bordon Herald, published 20th January 2006

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