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Norman Robbins
Tom, the Piper's Son

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Synopsis

Norman Robbins takes his audience back to Nursery-rhyme Land for this lively pantomime of adventure, comedy and magic with all the traditional favourites: the good Fairy Harmony, Georgie Porgie, old King Cole and his scatty Queen Mattiwilda, Dame Sprightly and her son Tom, who rescues the Princess from the naughty Knave of Hearts and his not-so-naughty villains Buckett and Spade. The fun-packed action alternates between simple settings and lane-cloth scenes and helpful production notes are included in the text to ensure a successful, light-hearted, seasonal entertainment that will appeal to all age groups.

Author's Note

The production of this pantomime is a pretty straightforward affair, and should present no great problems to experienced societies. For the benefit of others, however, perhaps the following notes will be of assistance.

All the scenes are full or lane-cloth scenes, one following the other. This gives a smooth flow to the action, for there should be little or no delay between scenes. Remember, the longer these changes are, the faster you lose your audiences' concentration.

The same reasoning applies to the dialogue. Keep it crisp and well paced. Not rushed, but most certainly not at a funeral pace.

The Tree of Truth
One of the oldest of our "traditional" pantomime gags, having almost as many variations as the tree has branches. Firstly the "fruit" must be large enough to recognize from the back of the theatre. Our apples were painted beachballs and trimming. If you can't manage apples, any other fruit or nut will work. Tennis balls painted orange (tangerines), plastic lemons, polystyrene coconuts, etc. The large branch that falls is quickly and easily made from wire (chicken or fencing) and covered with old newspaper and flour paste, painted to match the tree, and a few leaves and fruits.

The Sword on the Tree
There are several ways of making the sword appear on cue.

  1. A pivoting trap set into the tree trunk. Painted to match the tree at both sides, the empty side faces the audience, the other side has spring clips fixed to it and the sword is pressed into them. On cue, and hidden by the flash, the trapdoor swivels, and the sword is "magically" revealed.
  2. The sword is fixed to the tree on spring clips facing the audience. A painted cloth (both sides) matching the tree hangs over it, fastened at the bottom. Release pegs are at the top. On cue, the release pegs are withdrawn from behind the tree, the flap will fall under cover of the flash, and the sword appears as if by magic.
  3. The sword is lowered from above on a fine nylon thread. If this is done, I suggest lowering it in the scabbard, so that Tom has only to unsheath it. The scabbard should be lavishly decorated. The sword in all cases should be a broadsword. Others used are foils or epees.

Grendelgorm
In my original conception of this character, he is a Cyclopedic Giant. However, an ordinary Giant will do quite nicely, but get one as fierce looking as possible. He also needs a huge club. As a director of many years, though, I realize it may not always be possible to hire a Giant's outfit for the period you need, so a Dragon can be substituted without loss of tension. The offstage roars (and onstage growls) should be done on an offstage microphone.

The Herald, or the Pieman, may double as the Captain or Grendelgorm.

The music used in the show
Over the past few years I've had many letters asking me what music I used in my original productions, so, for guidance only, I have prepared a list of the music for this pantomime which is obtainable from me, c/o Samuel French Ltd. Remember though, it may not be suitable for your singers and some may be out of print (local libraries can be of great help in obtaining vocal scores). Also, please remember to contact the Performing Right Society before any published music is used in your production. This is for your own protection.

Cast

The Knave of Hearts
Fairy Harmony
Kitty Fisher, a village girl
Jack Horner, her beau
Tom Sprightly, the Piper's son
Dame Sprightly, his mother
Princess Marigold
The Lord Chamberlain
Georgie Porgie, the Dame's reluctant sweetheart
Buckett, Spade, two not so villainous villains
Herald
Old King Cole, the King of Hearts
Queen Mattiwilda, the Queen of Hearts
The Pieman
The Ship's Captain
Grendelgorm, the Guardian of the Sword
Chorus of Villagers, Fayreground Vendors, Circus People, Courtiers, Soldiers, Sailors, Spirits of the Island, Chefs and Serving-wenches
Babes Chorus

Dedication

For Hannah Elizabeth.

Copyright © Norman Robbins 1984