A big moment is on the horizon for Southwick Players Youth – also known as SPY – as they stage their first major production, Fantastic Mister Fox from July 18-21, with Nettie Sheridan directing. Roald Dahl’s book comes in an adaptation by David Wood.
Performances are at the Barn Theatre, Southwick at 7.30pm, with a matinee at 2.30pm on July 21.
Nettie became group leader at the start of last year. The group had been revived the year before, and Nettie’s task was to put it all on a much more regular footing.
“The idea is that the group helps bring on young adults. We want to have a really thriving youth group, but it is also good to be able to have young people that we can tap into for the adult productions.
“And it is just fabulous. I really love it. The children have such great fun, and I love devising little sessions for them, things like putting together a play. We do a lot of improvisation and creative stuff. Our weekly sessions are much more drama-based activities, and it is great. You can see that it helps give them confidence. It is about improving their social skills. They get to meet children from other schools that they would not otherwise get to meet, and it is definitely good for building their confidence. We do things like voice projection. I wanted them to mime what they want to be when they grow up, and there were only two out of the 17 that wanted to be actors. Others wanted to be politicians and police officers. They were all there because they were enjoying the experience, not just because they want to be actors. They are all different personalities and they all get different things out of it. And they love the team work environment.”
They did a small showcase show last October, with different sections from things like Alice In Wonderland, The Wizard Of Oz and The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe: “But this is their first big production. Some of them have never been on the stage before. We went out with our 17 original SPY members and we got it up to 28. We went and had open auditions, and it was great.”
Fantastic Mister Fox is a tale of good versus bad, with the wonderfully-witty Mister Fox running rings around his enemies, the hideous farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean.
When Mister Fox steals one chicken too many from a local farm, the farmers decide the only cure is to rid themselves of Mister Fox by any means possible. But, outwitted at every turn, the farmers’ plans backfire, and all the animals celebrate with an enormous feast at their expense.
Characters brought to life include Mister Fox played by Louis Johnson with Chay West playing Mrs Fox. Luke Flemming plays Mr Badger and Alfred Hill plays Rat. Rosa Flemming dons curlers and hairnet to play Mabel who has caught the eye of the revolting Farmer Bean played by Freya Sheridan (daughter of director Nettie Sheridan). The trio of farmers is played by Freya Sheridan (Farmer Bean) from Southwick, Harrison Viinikka (Farmer Boggis) from Worthing and Evie-Grace Mott (Farmer Bunce).