Hi, I’m Mike Benyon, musical director for this and the vast majority of SMP’s pantos in the last 25 years!
It’s normally fairly easy to tell early on whether you have a good show on your hands and A Little Mermaid certainly comes into that category.
To start with we are blessed with an SMP cast that continues to go from strength to strength. This includes incredibly talented newcomers Niki KC, Julie Dowling and Barnaby Davis and the return of the wonderful Debbie Marsh who was in my first SMP panto, Alice in Wonderland, back in 1993.
We once again have an hilarious script written by Warren McWilliams who is achieving great success having now published many of his others with Lazy Bee Scripts. One of the most positive aspects for me this year is our choice of exciting songs which include a variety of classic pop and musical songs and modern pop.
Without wishing to sound like an old fusty, one issue that I have every year is to arrange 21st century chart songs that have no chords or tune into something that will sound good with a live band and chorus. Fortunately in amongst all of the tut we have unearthed some classics that sound fantastic with our talented cast.
This year again I have had the pleasure of writing an original song “A Fairy tale Ending” which will be sung by our Princess and her mermaid sisters. On last Wednesday’s rehearsal I was so pleased and impressed with how the girls sang it that I have decided to go into a studio to record it a couple of weeks before Xmas. This is obviously a very exciting project and we will post the final mix in a few weeks’ time.
I am very fortunate to be working alongside a couple of great people. Michael Lacey is making his debut as a director and clearly has a flair for it. Jo Bakhurst has an amazing talent for producing exciting and vibrant dance routines that are so perfect for the songs we are doing.
Next Sunday is our first Sunday rehearsal and it will be exciting to see everything start to come together. As musical director I don’t get the opportunity to see any of the characterisation until the first run throughs so this is always an exciting time.
The thing that always occurs to me is that SMP always put as much effort into producing a panto as they do for their summer musicals. This production is certainly no exception with numerous full on chorus numbers with complex dance routines and harmonies. With many of these songs led by Lucy Sardinha, Jack McGinn and Kate Sanders who all have beautiful voices this is sure to be a show to remember.
You really won’t want to miss our Under-the-Sea extravaganza; book those tickets now. You won’t be disappointed.