Upper Norwood drama group The Downsview Players is taking their audiences 'under the sea' this November 19, 25 and 26 as they get festive in their pantomime, The Little Mermaid.
The cast of 13 have been rehearsing at Downsview Methodist Church Hall under the direction of Lead Director Anne Bassi since the summer in what will be the first pantomime for the players in three years. Postponed due to the pandemic, The Little Mermaid brings the Players back to the stage for this bi-annual tradition of riotous fun, comedy wigs and nonsense.
Tickets are available from £5 and a special relaxed matinee performance for adults and children with learning disabilities and/or autism is available on the 19th.
So, what's the story?
Ariel, the Princess of Atlantis (Julie Nye), is turning 18 and as a special treat, she swims to the surface of the sea. On her exciting journey, she sees the handsome Prince Eric (Dan Carr) – what a catch! – and wishes he would be her love.
But down in the murky depths, the wicked sea witch Ursula (Michele Charles) is hatching an evil plan to take down Triton, the King of Atlantis (Colin Sexton). And she’ll stop at nothing to ‘pilchard’ that crown!
With a stolen prince, a magical potion, a lost voice and a battle for love, this story will have you ‘perch-ed’ on the edge of your seat.
Director Anne Bassi said: "When I read this script, I immediately knew the fun we would have not only in rehearsals but in creating an immersive experience for our audience the moment they walked in the doors. We can't wait to share our Atlantis with them!"
Meet the cast
Newbie Dan Carr plays Ariel's love interest Prince Eric. He joined the Players in 2021 shortly after moving to the area from Saxmundham in Suffolk.
"I was looking for a way to get involved with drama and meet some local people, too. I saw the Players were performing the Gameshow Bonanza, so I came along to watch. Soon after I auditioned for my first play and it was all a slippery slope from there!"
As any pantomime actor or audience member knows, pantomime involves lots of action - singing, dancing and running around. "I think my body has found the rehearsals to be hard work - I swear I spend half the pantomime being tackled, dragged or falling on my face! But besides a few bruises it's been fantastic fun. I find rehearsing very energising and it always puts me in a good mood. There's a lot more moving parts with the panto than I am used to for most of the plays I've been in, but that's made it all the more amazing in the last few weeks when everything has started to come together."
Colin Sexton plays King Triton - Ariel's father - and this is his first production back with the Players since 2013 where he played an Ugly Sister with Player and friend Simon Peyton (this time playing Ariel's sister Persil). "King Triton has been a fun and challenging role. It's a fairly straight character with not a lot of comedy bits which are my favourite parts. But I'm having a blast with a great cast who have made me very welcome and the new actors I've met are lovely. It’s about making true friendships,"
Players stalwart Terry Fuller dons wig and dress to be this season's pantomime dame - the second time he has taken such a role. "It’s such a staple of pantomime and you get so much freedom to have fun with it. I love the look of terror in the eyes of the men in the audience when you flirt with them!" Despite being busy with work and commitments in the Church, Terry still finds time to put his heart and soul into the Players' productions. "We have such fun in rehearsals and it brings me total escapism and chance to unwind. It’s a kind of ‘fire break’ in the working week. It also makes me smile when I am sitting in a board meeting and remembering that just a few hours previously I was jumping about on the stage in a dress!".
A cake sale for Macmillan is taking place at each performance in honour of our dearly departed friend and Player, Jack Walsh.
All photograpy by Lis Parham.