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Haddenham Youth Theatre

by Margaret Watkins – 1st February 2015
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Haddenham Youth Theatre presented 'Wind in the Willows' and 'Sherlock Penguin' at the weekend with an extra matinee performance on Saturday to satisfy demand for seats.

The group has grown in popularity year on year and did not disappoint this time with a highly entertaining mixture of drama, dance, music and, above all, fun. Lynne Colley, director and leader of the Youth Theatre, has again excelled herself.

The younger members of the group presented 'Sherlock Penguin' by S J Edwards of Lazy Bee Script. It was a truly funny script which the young cast confidently acted with excellent comic timing. Led by Matthew Moore, as the out of work penguin detective Sherlock Penguin and ably supported by his friend Watson, played by Odhran Thomas, the cast all relished the fun of the story.

Matthew's acting was so lively and well timed that the jokes came through loud and clear. The Caribou's little echoing laughter and the running joke about the menu of ice and fish got a response from the audience every time.

The second play, based on the classic book 'Wind in the Willows' was John Morley's version of this well loved story.

The outrageous Toad was played with great gusto by Connor Spence, last seen in the World War I play in November. Connor took over the stage with his accomplished portrayal of the conceited, impulsive and totally irresponsible Toad. He was ably supported by his friend Ratty, played in a bright and breezy way by Anna Tuckett; by Mole, played in a delightful, shy and naïve way by Bethy Airstone; and Badger, Harry Parsons, as a gruff, paternal and disapproving friend.

The other stand out character was Chief Weasel, played by Kyle Eldridge as an arrogant Mafia boss plotting the downfall of Toad and the takeover of Toad Hall. Kyle's 'air guitar' solo was brilliant.

The large cast worked really well as a team adding to the performance with dancing, singing – from pop to Gilbert and Sullivan take-offs – and slapstick comedy, even including a pantomime horse. The gypsy dance, the court scene and, above all, the concluding fight scene, brilliantly choreographed by Tom Colley, were highlights of a thoroughly entertaining show.

No show could go ahead without a team of backroom backup. Lynne Colley has gathered together a dedicated group of talented parents, friends and supporters over the years. This was evident in the set design, with a painted caravan, barge and car; the sound and lighting; the music and makeup; and the colourful and imaginative costumes.

Lynne and assistant director Angie Oakley were thanked on the final night by Harry Parsons (Badger) and Lynne paid tribute to all who had made the productions such a success.

See lots more photos of the production in our GALLERIES section ...

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