ROYAL AIR FORCE MILDENHALL, England – “Mother Goose is so poor she can’t afford to pay attention, let alone pay Squire McGreedy’s high taxes.”
One of many punch lines delivered by Bobby Mather, the director of Mother Goose, a pantomime carried out by a troupe of thespians at the Jubilee Center in Mildenhall recently.
All that changes when she is given Priscilla (played by Michaela Manning), a goose that lays golden eggs. Despite her newly-found wealth, Mother Goose (Darren Hitchings) craves youth and beauty. But, what would she do to get it?
Spawning a room full of laughter from patrons who packed into every seat in the Jubilee Centre, Mother Goose’s daughter Jill (Jazmin Chacon) and son Silly Billy (Gregory Holmes) soon learn to what extent their insatiable mother will go to fill her gluttony palate.
Adding to the exceptional cleverness of the play was coupling American actors Chacon and Holmes, with the punch lines Bobby Mather used to poke fun at the American spectators.
During intermission, Mather advised the patrons they’d have a bit of time to stretch their legs, buy refreshments and use the toilet. For the visiting forces in the room (myself included), Mather let us know that toilet meant bathroom. Thank God he did too – without that bit, where would I have gone to relieve my bladder and freshen up with a nice intermission shower.
After intermission, the audience sat in awe as we watched the good fairy (Sian Edgeworth) battle the evil Demon Discontent (Katie Beckett) for Mother Goose’s torn soul.
Will she give in to the Demon Discontent?
Oh, no she won’t! Oh, yes she will!
The typical panto back-and-forth bickering was very tactful in its timing and, unlike some pantomimes, was not overused in Mother Goose. Silly Billy was also chronic to remind the audience to hark back at him and help prevent him from being silly.
Just as Mother Goose began to fall in love with her dear Squire McGreedy (Michael Mears), and her daughter begins to fall in love with the Squire’s nephew Colin (Gemma Raymond), she submits to the Demon’s trap and finds herself in the underworld.
She’s not alone down south. The Squire’s barmy bailiffs Bill Bumpkin (Valerie Alecock) and Ben Bogtrotter (Heather Alecock) follow her down. It’s there she encounters water nymphs, goblins, ghouls, zombies and Michael Jackson. Well, at least she witnesses the above dancing to the tune of “Thriller.”
With a musical line up of popular songs from Michael Jackson, High School Musical and such, younger pantomime goers were better drawn into the production. This was brilliant on the part of Director Mather.
In the end, all ends happily for the lovers and Silly Billy, who goes into business with the bailiffs – never saw that coming … did you?
For youth thinking about starting acting, Jazmin Chacon has some advice.
“If you are scared of performing in front of people, you get over that fear to perform. You learn how to be yourself and not care what other people think,” she said. “Trust me, when you have a lead role you have a lot of people looking at you all the time while you perform on stage and you have to keep going and not care how ridiculous or strange you look to people.”
Having Americans in the troupe helped to expand it because it is mix of cultures that learn from each other on and off stage. As a spectator to the performance, the mix of accents added more flavor to the show.
Jazmin shared her own thoughts on the matter.
“I would definitely encourage Americans to participate in this type of group because it really is a once in a life time experience and it is a very welcoming and fun group of people and you just learn and grow so much and in more ways that you could ever imagine,” she said. “There are theatre groups in almost every town.”
For Jazmin, acting goes beyond just expanding her British experience.
“There’s a bigger picture to be painted here too,” she said. “You learn to follow your dreams. You find that anything is possible if you work hard enough for it.”