I have received an anonymous review of the village pantomime for 2008 submitted to the editor of the Bishop Burton Newsletter. Normally anonymous contributions are not allowed but I thought that this would be appreciated by those who could not get a seat to the sold-out performances or cannot be in the village at this time of year.


Michael Lund has written directed and produced yet another masterpiece of taste, gentle wit and thoughtful acting. Oh no, he hasn't! This year's pantomime what he wrote was though a cacophony of fun, Abba and abundant amateurism. It also had a generous enough interval for us to consume masses of mince pies, ice cream and alcohol. Father Christmas appeared as himself just before the interval with his elfin helpers. Terry White and Marianna Hankin were involved in the pantomime at this point in a secret way that I cannot reveal.


Our master of ceremonies was Trevor Thomas sporting eyebrows borrowed from Groucho Marx and a “rug” from Ernie Wise in order to do a very scary impersonation of Alistair Darling. He managed the audience with great skill and humour, standing up to the hecklers and keeping the children involved and interested. He was also the only one dressed correctly for the occasion in his beautifully cut dinner jacket.


Roger Middleton starred splendidly as the eponymous hero of our pantomime "but you can call me Al". Aladdin appears as a student from Bransholme attending "Bishop Burton Huniversity" and Roger carries off the role with great energy and comic touch. The marvels of Norma King's make-up skills made it appear almost plausible that Roger should be playing a youth at least 50 years younger than himself.


What Norma did to Paul Hayward, Robin Douthwaite and Graeme Pittaway one can only wonder at. The amount of hair on display - real on the chest and fake on the head - provided a wonderful confection to the sing-along dance routine they did to "Dancing Queen"; like icing on the Christmas cake - "urh nurh!" as Aladdin would have said. Paul was so well hidden that his father-in-law did not recognise him.


The credit crunch obviously affected the performance as well as providing the source for many jokes. As an example, I'm sure Gerry Brooks must have borrowed Trevor's eyebrows to stick under his nose in his role as a stately Genie. He did appear to stumble slightly at one point to the amusement of some in the audience - was that in the script? [Editor et al: script??] Did Mike Lund also stumble when showing Gerry what to do? Why else does he now need a crutch?


Richard Tomlinson and Gerry McDonald featured in roles familiar to many villagers over recent weeks digging a hole for Yorkshire water in the Chinese village of Bishop Burton. This revealed an underground cave which contained the lamp. Peter Frewer as the Wizard was splendidly malovent in persuading Aladdin to descend into the cave to fetch the lamp. I wonder how many children slept easily in their beds that night?


Widow Twankey played Karen Mosley or was it the other way round? Anyway, we were treated to a delightful treat of bosom shifting worthy of Les Dawson and her command of so many different Northern accents was marvellous.


Gina Douthwaite as Slave of the Ring appeared whenever Aladdin rubbed his magic ring. And very servile she was too! Hilary Swann was very ghostly as, you've guessed it, the Ghost. Mind you, for the amount of make-up she wore, it could have been Brian under all that.


Was the loudest cheer of the evening reserved for David "Oxo" Oxtoby when he stomped on stage as the Royal Equerry? He presented us with the King and Queen,  played by Jack Wray and Sue Thomas exquisitely dressed in their chinoiserie. They acted for all the world as if they were the real king and queen - Charles and Camilla watch out!


Sue Brooks was not really needed as the prompter [I do have to live in Bishop Burton!] but she did it very well. Jack's extended pregnant pause was one of the highlights of the evening and Sue managed not to interrupt it in spite of encouragement by irresponsible members of the audience.


The wonderful costumes for the pantomime were master-minded by Ann Cherry from her Bishop Burton fashion studios. That we were able to see them so clearly was down to Simon Cherry who turned the lights on and off, and did some other clever technical things involving noise and light bulbs. We are indeed blessed to have so many talented Cherries in the village.


Manicurist Charlene Wright must have shuddered with horror as Aladdin punched telephone numbers into his mobile "fern" which doubled as a brick. How could she keep Aladdin's nails in good condition with such abuse?


Lynn Middleton's lovely comic performance as a waitress in the Altisidora must have ensured that she will never be asked to serve food again - self-service from now on, Roger! She spilled more food than my 1 year old grandchildren.


Emma Pittaway was wonderful as Princess Peekabo. Pretty, well-spoken and intelligent; thank goodness Aladdin was able to rescue her back to the village from Market Weighton. Without wishing to give the plot away, she's wasted on that Aladdin though.


The audience joined in the proceedings enthusiastically singing along to the chorus of Mamma Mia. What this had to do with anything, I have no idea. [Editor: After two glasses of wine, the reviewer had extreme difficulty following whatever plot there was. We apologise sincerely for his inattention. He has been suspended by the Board from reviewing all pantomimes for three months]


Many others were involved in the pantomime but the whole concert party deserve our thanks and congratulations for a splendid start to the Christmas festivities. The laughter of the audience was off the scale, so they must have enjoyed it too. Well done the Events Group and their leader Ann Cherry!

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