Panto success rolls off Hawick Ball Factory floor

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SNOW White was nowhere to be seen, and neither was Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Dick Whittington, Alladin or Mother Goose. They were all elsewhere in the colourful and magical world of pantomime.

However, there were wonderful characters such as Palemerk Bucket, Phillipa Bucket, Robbi Dye, Boo Cannon and Grandpa Joe, plus a host of others.

Newcomers to the panto scene they mave have been, but memorable ones they have turned out to be due to their appearances in Hawick Pantomime Group’s production of Palemerk and the Hawick Ball Factory which is being staged in the town hall this week.

Well written and produced by Graham Ford, and based on the Johnny Depp film version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, this new panto is indeed tastier than the delicious goodies you could expect to find in such a place.

And making matters even more mouth-watering is that the show has a strong local flavour through its cleverly-penned storyline.

Telling the story of Palemerk Bucket from Galashiels and her adventures with the Hawick Ball factory, this year’s panto has it all. A talented cast, great singing numbers, colourful dance routines, humour, quick-fire jokes, audience participation and even a nice little piece featuring the voice of the late, great Bill McLaren.

The show features a splendid blend of new faces and well-known players on the panto scene, and among the budding stars taking her first leading role is Rosie Moyes, who plays Palemerk Bucket. The daughter of panto stalwarts Margaret and Stuart Moyes, 16-year-old Rosie is a delight throughout and really plays the Gala character magnificently.

Paul Robson, a one-time top national hunt jockey, shows he is as much at home on the stage as he was in the saddle through his performance as Robbie Dye, the owner of the Hawick Ball factory. With his Johnny Depp movie look, Paul, who is lead singer with popular Hawick band Up In Arms, blows the audience away with his two singing numbers – Feeling Good and It’s a Kind of Magic – both of which are show-stoppers in their own right.

Boo Cannon is his stage name and booed Cammy Renwick certainly was as the baddie of the show. With a broad Glasgow accent, Cammy really gets the audience going as the villainous businessman attempting to take the Hawick Ball factory away from Hawick to Greenock. Relishing every boo and hiss, Cammy is the meanest of bad buys as the youngsters who have already seen the show will testify.

Gerry Monaghan puts a lot into his part of dittering Grandpa Joe and emerges with flying colours. A former football referee, Gerry blows the whistle to the full in what is only his second panto outing.

Yet another new face to shine is Hannah Adams as Loreal. Apart from showing good acting attributes, Hannah nails her colours to the mast with some dynamic singing in two numbers.

Besides the new talent on board, there is also the old hands on deck who steer this panto presentation on a successful course. Indeed, once again the panto dame, Mike Webber, is brilliant as Phillipa Bucket, while other regulars, Margaret Moyes (Grandma Josephine), Kathy Flynn (Grandma Georgina) and Jim Hurt (Grandpa George) also shine in their respective roles. The cast also includes several other players, all of whom are fabulous in what they do too.

Under the guidance of new choreographer Sarah Monaghan, the dance routines are bright, flowing and well presented.

Piano player and musical director Drew Gibb shows what a talented music man he is, and is ably supported by drummer Les Jarvis and guitarist Graeme Tinlin.

The recent Arctic weather has seen many events cancelled, but for Hawick Pantomime Group the show goes on. And this week’s town hall audiences are mighty pleased about that.