Review by John Hannam

YOU can always expect a surprise when you visit a First Act show at Shanklin Theatre.

Their own interpretation of Treasure Island — The Panto, scripted and directed by Rowan Lathey, delighted the large audience.

It was also so rewarding to see just how much the cast were enjoying themselves on stage.

For many members these productions have given them such a boost in confidence and the joy of working as a team member.

The lead performers now know their lines so much more and need far less guidance.

After an opening of stirring music and parrot puppets, the show opened in the Admiral Benbow Inn, which was the perfect setting for Oom Pah Pah by the whole large company, before the arrival of Blind Pew and the dreaded black spot.

Rachel Stone played Pew, the leader of the pirates, with plenty of action both visually and vocally.

She was well booed at the end, always an indication of a part well performed. She had great support from Immie Sivell, as Long John Silver.

Other gang members included Theresa Rose, Jamie Topham and Rachel Sturton.

The eventual hero of the trip, Jim Hawkins, was energetically played by Jade Hornbuckle.

His stage mother, Mrs Hawkins Bizarre, was enthusiastically played by Frank Bingham, who clearly revels in playing a female role, much to the delight of everyone.

James Soley, who is improving with every show, made such an immediate impact as Ben Gunn and made the most of some funny lines.

Ashleigh Jones was also well cast as Popeye Parrot and could clearly be heard all around the theatre.

Many popular songs like In The Navy, Another One Bites The Dust and Dancing With The Captain had everyone on stage and in the audience singing along.

Another First Act evening to cheer you up on a cold winter night.

Carol Laidler and her invaluable team of helpers now have groups on three days a week — a hint of how these students with learning difficulties have really taken to performing on stage.

The show opened on Monday December 9 and the following night there were a few major cast changes, that included Aaron Danvers-Jukes playing Long John Silver and Ross Forde as Ben Gunn.

Sadly missing from this First Act production was the late Colin Heber, who was such a popular member for 20 years. The show was dedicated to him.