Getting down with the Hood as New Addington does panto

BELLA BARTOCK missed out on her central London concert last weekend. She could not resist the New Addington pantomime (and no, that’s not a reference to Councillor Tony Pearson)

The cast of the New Addington panto, with centre stage as Robyn Hood. Bella assures us that Friar Tuck is not Tony Pearson...

The cast of the New Addington panto, with Anna Richards centre stage as Jill Scarlett. Bella assures us that Friar Tuck is not Tony Pearson…

Croydon is now the IT place for us inner London sophisticates to be seen.

Ahead of its two carol concerts this weekend, last weekend was all about enjoying a community fun evening with the pantomime.

New Addington’s Salvation Army captain Emma Spencer was such an excellent wicked witch in last year’s panto that this show had been in my diary since last Christmas. Emma told me that so convincing was her characterisation of the part last year that some young children absented themselves from the church for a while.

A bit of wickedness may be good for you in a 366-day year of consistent good deeds, though in Robyn Hood, the 2012 pantomime, the two Salvation Army captains who minister to the needs of New Addington, took a break from the nasty parts.

The role of the Sheriff of Addington surprisingly did not find its way to Councillor Pearson, but instead saw a marvellous rendition by Martyn Buchanan that managed to secure even more howls of derision and boos than any offensive local figure of ridicule might have done.

Buchanan’s daytime job in the tough world of being the contracts manager in a building company must have been a good grounding for the part.

In this version of the legend, Robyn Hood was drawn to her imprisonment not by an archery contest but by “New Addington’s Got Talent”, in which Jason Mercer was a very dapper Lermet O’Deary. The answers of the contestants to his questions were appropriately formulaic.

An early song “This place is just like living in paradise” was an anthem for New Addington.

A reassuring guide for life most appropriate to the supportive kind words, tea and biscuits that the Salvation Army can provide was uttered by Friar Tuck Shoppe (Steve Merredew) that “nothing is so serious in life that it can’t be solved by chocolate”.

Gareth Merredew’s Master Marloni gave a clever spoken only telephone response to Vikki Coffey’s Robyn Hood singing of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”

The 25-strong “mini crew” of young performers had good rhythm and musicality.

Anna Richards’ Jill Scarlett was a take off of Cheryl Cole.

Dr Thomas Bakare, a transplant expert, probably did not think that within six months of joining the New Addington Salvation Army he’d be stepping the boards as a mincing pantomime dame Aunty Mo. He and Chorane Martin Burke as Madame Brando made up the bearded couple of pantomime dames.

Prince John (Paul Hughes) in his Union Jack coat was convincing as an international man of mystery. Appositely in a story about unfair taxation, Hughes is a tax advisor.

There was also a rabbit that was so tricky that it kept eluding Robyn Hood. I was told that in these parts this was an allusion to the local MP, whoever he might be.

All in all, a great show played to a full appreciative audience.

  • The Salvation Army will also be cheering hearts in New Addington with two carol services over the weekend. From 3pm on Saturday 15 they will be performing at the Timebridge Centre, a community centre which, through a miracle, has survived after council cuts. And there will be a carol service at the ACA on Sunday, December 16, from 3pm.
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