Daring Dames

The dames in Cumnor Players over the past ten years have been such darlings and so very daring. Here are some insider secrets from our dames:

Not everything has gone to plan:

As dame things should go wrong, you need to go off piste in order to react to and interact with the audience. My entrance in Aladdin involved me flouncing on. One evening I came on and my head dress and wig came off - the audience loved it and I made the most of it.

 Tim Pottle, Widow Twankey, Aladdin

In Alice I did accidentally pop the balloon baby…a sadly deflating experience for the poor child.

Andrew Downs, Queen of Hearts, Alice

Personally, I couldn’t cope with heels and found that a wearing a ball gown-style skirt may have looked the part, but cleared all the props on a very small stage.

 Mike Meldrum, Ugly Sister, Beauti and the Beast

I bumped into Jacqui in the Co-op, not having seen her for years. She said “we’re struggling to find men wanting to be in the pantomime and we need an ugly sister, so I thought of you (flattered or what!)…what do you reckon?”

 Well I thought, I know some of my early life remains a bit of a blur but I can’t think what on earth Jacqui remembered from those times that made her think that I would want to get dressed up in women’s clothes and get up in front of an audience and perform, but without really knowing why, I said “yes why not, I’ll give it a go”.

 Paul Bobby, Ugly Sister, Cinderella, Beauti and the Beast

 

The experience has been a deep and meaningful one:

For me the key thing is the trust in the rest of the Players. Without their professionalism, enthusiasm (dedication!), experience and direction, the only other way of getting me into a dress would have been a stag party in Amsterdam…. and fortunately INTERPOL now have bigger fish to fry which leaves me free to ply my trade in and around Cumnor! I thought I would hate it but I I absolutely love it and find myself wanting to carve out a better and better character.

 Eddy Hyde

Dame Has-been, Jack, Mrs Hawkins, Treasure Island

I wanted to be a dame before I turned 40. ..I love being a dame, it's such a traditional part …Pantomime isn't just about the people on the stage, audience participation is a fundamental element and the dame plays an important role in making sure everyone gets involved. 

 Tim Pottle,  Marley in Christmas Carol

The build-up from rehearsals was strange to say the least…especially going shopping for ladies under-garments that I could squeeze into and finding some very strange web sites where size 11 heels seemed commonplace

Paul Bobby, Ugly Sister, Cinderella, Beauti and the Beast

 

The delight of playing a Dame for me was that I was so divorced from my real-life persona that it considerably emboldened me in my interactions with the audience. The characters I played meant that I could become totally outrageous rather than just a little provocative. I do remember asking all the men in the audience to stand up for a song - and asking the one, very staid, male still seated whether he was trying to tell us something.

Mike Meldrum, Ugly Sister, Beauti and the Beast

 

 

My advice to aspiring dames: be as outrageous as you can, then add some!

Best things about dame hood include the outrageous costumes (my wife tells people truthfully that I’ve had more dresses made for me than she has), the over-the-top behaviour and the audience interaction.  False eyelashes would be among the worst.

Andrew Downs, Queen of Hearts, Alice