Review: Spittal Variety Group’s Robinson Crusoe

Laura Dunn and Hannah Bass play the lead roles as 'Robinsoe Crusoe and Juanita. Pictures by Kimberley Powell
Laura Dunn and Hannah Bass play the lead roles as 'Robinsoe Crusoe and Juanita. Pictures by Kimberley Powell

Just like dogs, pantos aren’t just for Christmas and arriving in a week that also gave us the dreaded Blue Monday, ‘Robinson Crusoe’ was the perfect tonic.

Spittal Variety Group delight year after year with their pantomimes and 2014 was no different.

Spittal Variety Group pantomime 'Robinson Crusoe and the Pirates'

Spittal Variety Group pantomime 'Robinson Crusoe and the Pirates'

Everything from the set, to the costumes and the music was vibrant but as impressive as all its trimmings were, ‘Robinson Crusoe’s’ carnival vibe would have fallen flat if it wasn’t for the endless enthusiasm of the cast.

From principals to the chorus, the energy from all involved could give a jumbo pack of batteries a run for its money.

Returning to the SVG fold to take on the title role, Laura Dunn was everything you’d want from a swashbuckling hero.

A confident actress and singer, Laura commanded the dialogue and the stage and made light work of an array of well known tunes.

Spittal Variety Group pantomime 'Robinson Crusoe and the Pirates''Nutty Nick - Jonathan Scott

Spittal Variety Group pantomime 'Robinson Crusoe and the Pirates''Nutty Nick - Jonathan Scott

I have to admit I’d never expect Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ to get the panto treatment but with a tweak in the lyrics and great support from Georgia Murray and Matthew Wood as Poll the Parrot and Man Friday, Laura ensured the Spittal take on the song was a smash hit.

Laura’s duet partner for ‘A Thousand Years’, Hannah Bass is an absolutely sublime singer and it’s easy to see why she was shortlisted for a top performance award last year.

The pair were pitch perfect throughout, and although you couldn’t quite apply the same critique to John Dougall and Keith Fraser’s duet, it was just as much a crowd pleaser.

Taking on the roles of Margerita and Captain Seasalt the panto stalwarts got Grease’s ‘You’re The One That I Want’ by the scruff of its neck and took it in a direction which the audience were more than happy to follow.

Spittal Variety Group pantomime 'Robinson Crusoe and the Pirates''Margarita - John Dougall

Spittal Variety Group pantomime 'Robinson Crusoe and the Pirates''Margarita - John Dougall

There’s a reason why both appear on the cast list year after year. No-one does dame better than John, nor does anyone do an ad-lib quite like John either! And if awards were handed out for enthusiasm, Keith would most certainly be up there.

Some one else who’d be in contention is Jonny Scott. As the aptly named Nutty Nick, Jonny had an excellent rapport with the audience with Spittal Cubs and Scouts particularly keen to join in!

Many faces return to tread the boards with SVG every year, taking on all manner of roles. Fiona Dunn has had more reinventions then Madonna- equally at home as a glamorous fairy godmother and as daft pirate Crossbones who she morphed into last week.

And she was blessed with a cracking partner in crime in the shape of Nicola Hastie as Skullduggery.

As witch doctors Mumbo Jumbo and Hocus Pocus Sharon and Georgia Young were a force to be reckoned with. It was Sharon’s first appearance with SVG in a while and what an entrance she made to a re-worked version of ‘When You’re Good to Mama’ from ‘Chicago’.

If it was panto villains the audience were after they got two for the price of one in the form of Ian Little’s Cut Throat and Dave Gillies’ Davey Jones- both ranking high on the boo-ometer.

The good to their evil was Jennifer Greenwood’s Coral who ensured everyone was up to speed with the plot.

It was so nice to see a good mix of ages having a ball on stage. The buzz throughout the cast was there for all to see in encore numbers ‘Conga’ and ‘Rhythm of the Night’.

Who needs to go to Brazil for Mardi Gras?!

==========

THE CAST

Robinson Crusoe Robinson Crusoe- Laura Dunn, Juanita- Hannah Bass, Margarita- John Dougall, Man Friday- Matthew Wood, Captain Seasalt- Keith Fraser, Cut Throat- Ian Little, Poll the Parrot- Georgia Murray, Coral Spirit of the Deep- Jennifer Greenwood, Davy Jones- Dave Gillies, Hocus Pocus- Georgia Young, Mumbo Jumbo- Sharon Young, Skull Duggery- Nicola Hastie, Cross Bones- Fiona Dunn, Nutty Nick- Jonny Scott

Chorus: Susan Whyte, Lesley Burn, Gemma Burn, Diane Renner, Susan Potts, Bernice Lee, Stephanie Hay, Sylvia Dougall, Emma-Jane Hume, Hazel Bettison,

Geraldine Skelly, Denise Clarke, Ross Mair, Abbie Thomson, Kirstie Forbes, Hollie Darymple.

Juniors: Chloe Farnaby, Jenny Lawson, Erin Fairbairn, Charlie McDonald, Jess Calder, Jack Patterson, Alysha Cowe, Ewan Jeffrey, Phoebe Gray, Molly Fairbairn, Emma Cairns, Katie Young, Megan Anderson, Molly Tait, Abbie Sutherland.

Dancers: Daniel Clelland, Rebecca Lowe, Chloe French, Chloe Dumble, Alice Fairbairn- Laura Dunn, Juanita- Hannah Bass, Margarita- John Dougall, Man Friday- Matthew Wood, Captain Seasalt- Keith Fraser, Cut Throat- Ian Little, Poll the Parrot- Georgia Murray, Coral Spirit of the Deep- Jennifer Greenwood, Davy Jones- Dave Gillies, Hocus Pocus- Georgia Young, Mumbo Jumbo- Sharon Young, Skull Duggery- Nicola Hastie, Cross Bones- Fiona Dunn, Nutty Nick- Jonny Scott

Chorus: Susan Whyte, Lesley Burn, Gemma Burn, Diane Renner, Susan Potts, Bernice Lee, Stephanie Hay, Sylvia Dougall, Emma-Jane Hume, Hazel Bettison,

Geraldine Skelly, Denise Clarke, Ross Mair, Abbie Thomson, Kirstie Forbes, Hollie Darymple.

Juniors: Chloe Farnaby, Jenny Lawson, Erin Fairbairn, Charlie McDonald, Jess Calder, Jack Patterson, Alysha Cowe, Ewan Jeffrey, Phoebe Gray, Molly Fairbairn, Emma Cairns, Katie Young, Megan Anderson, Molly Tait, Abbie Sutherland.

Dancers: Daniel Clelland, Rebecca Lowe, Chloe French, Chloe Dumble, Alice Fairbairn