This one was directed by ex-participants

Here Vicky Tear queens it in her amazing costume. Behind is the stunning scenery. This was probably the best looking of all the pantos so far. Jeanie Mellersh excelled herself. Vicky is married now and has a baby of her own

As one part of the duet to this production I thought I might mention a few things and give value to what Nick and Jeanie offered the youth of Minstead. Cally, my sister and I, had decided we would like to to make a pantomime and we thought this was easy and very possible little did we know what furore and community angst this proposition would attract. Luckily this opposition became less of a hindrance and with the support of many interested parties Cally and I were able to make our vision real. Later on reflection both Nick and his daughter Lucy (who was apparently instrumental in this inception of the pantomime idea) spoke to me about the importance of the particpation of children or young adults to the pantomime idea. Working on this production as the key producers and directors was an amazing journey into our adulthood. We organised, inspired and taught young hopefuls the tricks of the trade and began the arduous journey we had often witnessed Nick do when coaching and cajoling us into things we as child actors didn't readily understand let alone want to act out. Sounds perverse but actually is an important part of growing and developing a sense of self and relationship.

An interesting part of the process for me was working alongside Cally, my sister, we had both found a similar passion and understanding of the way it worked to make a Pantomime. Considering the sum total of both our years spent acting, singing and dancing through the pantomimes plus other events with the Guides, School and other AmDrams we instinctively knew the ropes. Collaboration isn't easy as many artists will tell you, collaboration with siblings is a case of sink or swim. Fortunately we were both determined and took on the roles of directors, co-ordinators and creators with vigor. Over the previous years we had witnessed many examples of other kids parents and enthusiasts conducting rehearsals and the fridays were the big evenings of rehearsals with lardy cake at the Mellershs'. We took this on and co-ordinated many adults and parents who came forward to help out. It was a big task let alone keeping an eye on the timeline and the bigger picture of the script. We enlisted some of the stars Bill Cooper, Vicki Tear, Charlie Tear and Danny Leatherdale and alike who all took to the project and with a bit of tweeking got the message and made a good showing. As rehearsals got more pressurised Cally and I took different but very complimentary roles. I took on the big rehearsals, bellowed at people and brought the back stage staff on board. Cally would sneak people off who hadn't learnt their lines, would re-rehearse weak performers and build up a sense of the detail and subtlety needed. We talked endless about the project at home I think Mum went out to the cow shed more often to talk to someone else about something else, it was getting pretty intense !!!! I know my boyfriend at the time who was playing the drums was getting annoyed at my new found sense of authority and the distraction of my attention from him to others, tough!!!!!!

I know on the night many of my college mates came and the house was full both nights. Fiona Crosthwaite-Eyre was a staunch supporter of our work and had hosted that fateful evening when several key villagers and pantomime people had tried to disuade us from doing the project. She came up to me and squeezed me tightly and said "You showed them, that was the best pantomime ever well done." Support and belief from all factions in our community was paramount, apart from doing the work, the prevailing wind of good luck and bedrock of invested interest by villagers was equally important. This was a great lesson which taught us the importance of the community's participation in an artistic process, the controversy it can provoke as well as the substantial amount of social cohesion it can produce.

I guess what I am trying to say is Nick and Jeanie offered my sister and me several years of fun and serious play in the countless pantomimes, mummers plays and events that peppered our calendar. When it came to doing our own pantomime, Romyette and Julio, we were both very privileged and challenged. We instigated the project and fortunately for us Nick collaborated and wrote the script and advised us on the process. Who could boast this type of artistic license and creative support? Minstead, with Nick and Jeanie in it is a special place. I have since studied and still work in the performance field both as an academic researcher and lecturer and through this work I still find myself connected to and part of the wider experiment and success story of what Jeanie and Nick gave to the New Forest. It was an exceptional time in my life and I think the same can be said by many other participants in these wonderful pantos. I am grateful for this time and also consider the work other artists in community do as another example of enriching communities with art, music and theatre work. In our profit driven society it feels gracious and timely to honour the people that reinforce value and community relations above making a buck. Bless Jeanie and Nick and thank you very much for getting this site together to commemorate and celebrate your achievements. (Posted by Siouxsie Cooper)


This was the logo used on the tickets and the programs and the fronts of the scripts we used to give the children for colouring in. The story was a sort of silly version of Romeo and Juliet. I often wonder what would have happened if the Friar's plot hadn't failed so disastrously, I imagine the Montague's and Capulets would have been fighting again in about 10 minutes and that's what happens in this story.

Anyway it was brilliantly directed by young Susie and Cally cooper and here I am handing the script over to them. I didn't interfere very much - or at any rate that is what I thought. Nick

Some photos of the show

Some good photos of this turned up from someones collection and were on show at the exhibition. Here are some of them.
At the top Chloe Madden (now an officer in the army training helicopter pilots in 2010) as Romyette with Julio (Alex Titheridge) both of whom were terrific. Below Bill Cooper, great as "The Boss", gets covered in what looks like spaghetti for no good reason except that the scriptwriter and directors liked mess. (What is a panto without it?)


Here's a review of the show from the Echo
And finally the youngest star Sarah Jackson aged 5, with Amy Roche and Jenny Bates. Sarah put in a terrific performance. Mentioned in the review and in Siouxsie piece at the top, she was amazing. I saw her today. Aged 22, she has a long term partner, lives in Hythe and works as a carer.

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