A fun time had by all with the Membury Merrymakers

PUBLISHED: 17:00 30 January 2018

Ron Martin, Flore McIlroy and Kate Henderson in the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Picture: Mike Beaman

Ron Martin, Flore McIlroy and Kate Henderson in the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Picture: Mike Beaman

Archant

It was a near sell-out audience when I attended the Membury pantomime on opening night - Thursday, January 25.

Oscar Purchase and Jason Hawkes in the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Picture: Mike BeamanOscar Purchase and Jason Hawkes in the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Picture: Mike Beaman

The Membury Merrymakers were staging The Hunchback of Notre Dame, written by Nat Bruzon and what an enjoyable occasion it proved to be.

Membury Village Hall only has a small stage, but the group made full use of it, with some well-painted scenery setting the standard from the off.

Enter Quasimodo, played by Kirsten McIlroy, who quickly set up a good rapport with members of the audience, who got involved from the start.

As the story developed, so we were introduced to more characters, each of whom had their own idiosyncrasies and added to the joyful atmosphere of the production.

Sam Dare and Jakki Henderson in the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Picture: Mike BeamanSam Dare and Jakki Henderson in the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Picture: Mike Beaman

There was the evil administrator Frollo, played by Judy Martin, and his henchman, played by Imi Payne, whose evil plan involved getting Quasimodo to steal carpet designs from Axminster, whilst also trying to get Esmerelda (Sam Dare), who was in love with the captain of the guard, played by Jakki Henderson, to marry Frollo.

Meanwhile, in Axminster (and Membury) the lady mayor, played by Ron Martin, was happy to establish twinning links with Notre Dame, despite the protestations of Susie, Choosy and Snoozy, played by Kaci Payne, Lily Purchase and Oscar Purchase.

Other characters who added to the fun, were Stella’s husband Rupert, played by Jo Purchase, the landlord and landlady of Membury’s pub, played by Henry Dare and Sue McLaney, with the landlord permanently cleaning a glass tankard, until the finale, and Howard and Hilda, the resident bellringers, played by Flora McIlroy and Kate Henderson, whose characteristics would have been familiar to fans of the BBC sitcom Ever Decreasing Circles.

There was also the town crier (Tyler Payne), mountain climber Edmund Hill R E (Jill Bellamy), athlete Roger Handrail (Jason Hawkes), snail purveyor Madam L’Escargot (Angela Stride), Esmerelda’s brother Jed (Scott Henderson) and two gargoyles, played by Nat Bruzon and Nigel Cook.

Scott Henderson, Ron Martin and Flore McIlroy in the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Picture: Mike BeamanScott Henderson, Ron Martin and Flore McIlroy in the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Picture: Mike Beaman

Although there were one or two hiccups as the show went along, they just added to the fun of the occasion, and the Membury Merrymakers can be satisfied that they brought large amounts laughter to their audience.

A scene from the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Picture: Mike BeamanA scene from the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Picture: Mike Beaman

Judy Martin and Ron Martin in the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Picture: Mike BeamanJudy Martin and Ron Martin in the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Picture: Mike Beaman

Ron Martin, Lily Purchase, Kaci Payne and Oscar Purchase in the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Picture: Mike BeamanRon Martin, Lily Purchase, Kaci Payne and Oscar Purchase in the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Picture: Mike Beaman

Nigel Cookm Imi Payne, Nat Bruzon and Judy Martin in the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Picture: Mike BeamanNigel Cookm Imi Payne, Nat Bruzon and Judy Martin in the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Picture: Mike Beaman

Kate Henderson and Flora McIlroy in the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Picture: Mike BeamanKate Henderson and Flora McIlroy in the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Picture: Mike Beaman

The can-can, as performed in the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Picture: Mike BeamanThe can-can, as performed in the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Picture: Mike Beaman

A scene from the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Picture: Mike BeamanA scene from the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Picture: Mike Beaman

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