Band Call –
Hi, I’m Mike Benyon, veteran member of SMP since 1992. Having musically directed the last four pantomimes this time I am assisting Kate Sanders who has taken up the reins magnificently for the first time.
One of my jobs has been to put the band together. We had two extremely long band rehearsals over the weekend in our regular weekend rehearsal space in Enfield. I have been very lucky over the years to have a regular and very talented group of musicians. Indeed, this year the band includes Paul Denham (bass) who first played for us in the 1994 production of Aladdin and John Fossey who first played in the 1998 production of Peter Pan.
We had the headache this year that our regular drummer, the legendary Chris “Chunk” Wall has hung up his sticks due to moving out of the area and our other guitarist, the brilliant Tim Hall has a prior family engagement the week of the show. However if the weekend’s rehearsals were anything to go by we have managed to find great replacements in Minty Bop Hopkins, who takes over on drums and Steve Jones, father of the choreographer Wendy, who provides a new dimension to the band with a second keyboard part.
What has impressed me so much is that this group of musicians have clearly spent a lot of time working on the songs before turning up to the rehearsals. However talented and accomplished musicians in the West End are, I can guarantee that they just turn up to rehearsals and just sight read the music!
After our two long rehearsals (accompanied in no small part by the local cat Billy who is resident at the venue) the cast joined us for the band call. This is always one of the most exciting times for both the band and the cast as it is the first real glimpse of what the audience will be hearing. There did seem to be a good buzz about the overall effect (you can usually detect groans and grumbles if things aren’t going too well). We have a few ambitious numbers in this show but the cast and production team have worked tirelessly to ensure that the songs are performed to a very high standard.
It has been a huge pleasure to work on this show with Chris O’Shea who is directing his second SMP show. Wendy Cooper (choreographer) and Kate Sanders (musical director) are both making their debuts in their respective roles but they are both clearly very talented and have been very passionate about producing a great show.
On a final note SMP has been my second home since 1992 and the friendliness of the group has played a huge part in my longevity. It is very sad that having been in the pit for the last 27 SMP pantomimes at the Intimate Theatre this looks like being the last one there. Still, I’m sure that as always the group will go from strength to strength at its new venue.
Get in –
While the excited cast and super band were rehearsing hard at the scout hut, our trusty crew were lifting set, plotting lights and setting up sound at the theatre…needless to say the cast were buzzing to hear we were allowed to join our incredibly hard working crew and see the set so far…eeeek. There is a very important task to undertake as soon as we arrive though…and that’s order pizza, wahoo. It’s become tradition at SMP to don our onesies, order pizza and play “question time” with the newbies. We’re not being lazy, honest, we’d only get in the way of the crew if we were to attempt to help out. Once we’ve treated the crew to some much deserved dinner it’s all hands back on deck. The crew get straight back to work on stage, while the cast practice routines with their brilliantly made props, thanks to the wonderful Debbie Wall, and our FOH team continue to set up the bar and foyer display. Our costume team can be seen hurriedly finishing costumes while our creative team are making changes to the spacing on stage. It’s a very busy but buzzing time for us all. Finally the cast make it on stage to try out the biggest dance numbers of the show with the set, and we all get over excited again…even though many of us have been on that stage a hundred times, the feeling of joy never goes away, and there’s something even more special this year as we know our footprints may be the last. Long live the wonderful Intimate Theatre and the priceless memories made there. – Jo McWilliams
Snow White runs at The Intimate Theatre, 521 Green Lanes, Palmers Green, London, N13 4DH from Thurs 17th to Sat 19th January 2018 at 7.30 p.m. & Matinee on Sat 2oth & Sunday 20th January 2018 at 2.30 p.m. In addition, SMP will introduce an 11am Matinee on Saturday 20th with a show specifically tailored for our younger audience.
Tickets are priced £14 Full/£11 Concessions and available by calling 07708 708 062 or emailing SMPTickets@hotmail.com to book. Online booking and payment is available via our website here: