Mel Wilcox

Published: 25 articles

BATS’s “Steel Magnolias” scoop the “Best Drama Award” at the East Region NODA Awards today

It was such an honour and a privilege to be at the helm of this fantastic play last year. a phenomenal cast and crew team. so much talent on the stage.

Today we found ourselves at the NODA awards, 7 months on, having been nominated in Best Drama and Best Panto for “Cinderella”. Such an honour to be nominated let alone to win one of the categories.

It was a lovely day, with all of us looking tippy in our finest.  Food was excellent. It was truly fantastic to be in a room with 450 other exceptionally talented people of all ages, shapes, sizes and backgrounds. And such a great mix of fantastic shoes as well!

i couldnt be more proud of our achievements and this love story i have had with this play for over 20 years.

To quote Kay Young earlier today –  “We winned!!! Yay go us!”

Now, all i can think of is what should be next and “how do we top that”?

 

IT’S A WRAP!

It’s a Wrap! Thank you to everyone who came down to support BATS with their Robin Hood Panto. We have a lot of fun putting in on and loved the response we received.

BATS are taking a break from Panto next year but watch this space for our up and coming shows.

Come see us at our Murder Mystery Evening on Saturday 30/03 – Great Barford Village Hall.

Tickets available at ticketsource.co.uk/bats

Also, look out for our Revue Show in November xxx

** ROBIN HOOD THE PANTO 2019 – MEET THE DIRECTOR **

So you have met the cast and now over to the creative brain behind it all – our Director Kay Young.
 
This will be Kay’s 11th stint in the panto director’s chair, and the 27th that she has been directly involved with, and she has a whopping 30 years membership of BATS under her belt (yes she is that old!)
 
Unless you’re connected with it, it is hard to comprehend the hard work and level of commitment it takes to put on a show, particularly of a scale like this. there is a small army of a team who support and without whom, it just could not happen.
 
Particular thanks to Gareth Griffiths Kay’s right hand man and assistant director and all round good egg, Katy Gardiner, who is not only our chair & title role, she’s choreographer and has assisted in so much of the on stage action too. And of course our resident machine Mel Wilcox, aka: superwoman, who is producer, stage manager and leading on set as well as all the tasks associated with group secretary. These guys are the backbone and we couldn’t do it without them and all the others who give their time and talent.
 
The 20 plus company of performers have been fantastic to work with and Kay gets especially excited to put newcomers on the stage and this year we are lucky to welcome 4 newbies to Bats, in principal roles, plus new people to our crew and chorus too.
 
Kay would also like to extend a special “welcome back” to both Dave and Kate Maltby who are again providing all of the tech side, the lighting and sound, they are a magnificent team.
 
Thanks also to The Hitchin and Sandy Dance Academy for providing wonderful students to perform in one of the scenes, they made their debut last year and were so fantastic we had to have them back.
 
All in all – cast and crew have done Kay proud and she hopes that you enjoy the show as much as she has enjoyed putting it together with this amazing team.

**ROBIN HOOD THE PANTO 2019 – MEET THE CAST **

Meet our swash-buckling hero, our leading man and a man so great they named a Panto after him… Robin Hood – played by Katy Gardiner!
 
Katy has been a member of BATS for over 9 years, joining shortly after the birth of her 2nd son and is now into her 3rd year as Chair of the group.
During this time she has enjoyed many roles on stage including Seraphina in ‘A Rose Tattoo’, Alice in our production of ‘Home by Christmas’ and Dandini in ‘Cinderella’. This will be her 7th Pantomime and her first as Principle Boy in the title roll ‘Robin Hood’!
Other roles undertaken within the group include Director, Assistant Director on ‘Wizard of Oz’ and many, many hours of choreography.
Katy is delighted to have been cast as Robin Hood this year, much to her surprise, as she is usually much more comfortable in a comedy sidekick role in the Pantomime world. She is also extremely proud to be sharing the stage with both of her sons, for the first time!

** ROBIN HOOD THE PANTO 2019 – MEET THE CAST **

 

On this Valentine’s Day where we celebrate being in love, we wanted to introduce you to our own Valentine, Sweetheart and Leading Lady Maid Marion – Played by Lizzie Harknett.
Lizzie came to watch her sister in last year’s BATS production of Cinderella, thoroughly enjoying the show and incredibly talented cast. After a few shoves in the direction of the auditions for Robin Hood from said sister, Lizzie found herself singing for the first time in over 13 years and much to her surprise she managed to land the role of Maid Marion!
Lizzie performed in many productions during her childhood but after school got caught up in the rat race of life, now working as a crime analyst. Lizzie has been a type 1 diabetic for 30 years, is a mother to her two year old daughter and is married to her childhood sweetheart.
Lizzie is quite overwhelmed to be playing a principal part but has loved developing the strong minded character of Marion, she really is a live wire! Being out of the house two evenings a week to rehearse has been quite a challenge but, being part of the BATS family and to do something for herself has been such a wonderful experience and she is very grateful to be involved.

** ROBIN HOOD THE PANTO 2019 – MEET THE CAST **

Say Hello or rather ”BOOOOO” to the EVIL Sheriff of Nottingham played by Lucas Wilcox.
Lucas Wilcox is 15 and currently in his GCSE year studying at Samuel Whitbread Academy. This is Lucas’s 2nd Panto with BATS having joined in April 2017.
Lucas had a busy year of performing in 2018, playing leads in Tommy, Little Shop of Horrors and Cinderella and performing in EDSA’s West End Excess at the Gordon Craig theatre in Stevenage.
He also won the adjudicator awards at both the Welwyn Drama Festival and the Cambridge Drama Festival for his performances in an Original Play called The Cat Burglar with The Out Of Ideas Theatre Company.
Lucas has recently been accepted into Emil Dale Performing Arts Academy from September 2019, for A level college.
Lucas has loved being part of the BATS family over the last 2 years, he feels he has made some lifelong friends.
Lucas can’t wait for the summer when GCSE’s will be over!

**ROBIN HOOD PANTO 2019 – MEET THE CAST **

 
Not that he needs any introduction to the Biggleswade scene, so here he is, after a short gap from Panto and playing the role of Fryer Tuck – David Gauge
 
Dave is certainly not a new member of BATS but was an original member when the group was formed in the days mobile phones were an idea on the drawing board.
During his time with BATS Dave has played in most of the Panto’s, as well as appearing in musicals, plays, and most things BATS have staged.
Dave reckons one of the most rewarding parts he has played was as Colonel Pickering in My Fair Lady, mainly because he is on stage a great deal without saying much. An exercise in concentration.
After a few years away from Panto Dave returns this year to take on the role of Fryer Tuck, no this isn’t a spelling error, a rather excitable and eccentric Italian, although Dave reckons he only got the part because he was the right shape.

NODA Nominations 2018

THE 2018 NODA AWARDS for DISTRICT 2

BEST DRAMA
Ampthill and Flitwick Drama Society for The Importance of Being Ernest
Biggleswade Amateur Theatre Society (BATS) for Steel Magnolias
Leighton Buzzard Drama Group for Natural Causes

BEST MUSICAL:
Barton Players for Oliver
Bedford Marianettes for The Addams Family
Sharnbrook Mill Theatre Trust for Spamalot

BEST PANTOMIME
Biggleswade Amateur Theatre Society (BATS) for Cinderella
Leighton Buzzard Drama Group for Aladdin
Maulden Players for Robin Hood

BEST YOUTH PRODUCTION (There were only two this year in our district, both from one school)
4Sixteen Theatre Company for A Midsummer Night’s Dream
4Sixteen Theatre Company for Singin’ in The Rain

BEST YOUNG PERFORMER
Bewlay Stanton of Sharnbrook Mill Theatre Trust for Patsy in Spamalot.

BEST TECHNICAL AWARD
Barton Players for ‘The imaginative lighting effects in Oliver’
Bedford Marianettes for ‘The costumes and make-up for the Addams Family especially the ancestors’
Stewartby Operatic Society for ‘The scenery for Rudigore particularly the portraits of the ancestors’

BATS Performance reviews & Articles

Cinderella: 2018 Panto:

NODA Review BATS Cinderella 2018

 

Steel Magnolias – Sept 2018:

https://www.noda.org.uk/show-reports/steel-magnolias-1539703689

NODA Review – BATS – Steel Magnolias 2018

 

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.biggleswadetoday.co.uk/whats-on/biggleswade-drama-society-relocate-to-the-us-to-present-steel-magnolias-1-8641400/amp

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.biggleswadetoday.co.uk/news/review-biggleswade-amateur-theatre-society-were-truly-magnificent-in-steel-magnolias-1-8671291/amp

Robin Hood Feb 2019;

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.biggleswadetoday.co.uk/news/oh-yes-they-are-bats-are-back-with-robin-hood-and-pals-in-biggleswade-1-8790069/amp

 

NODA Review – BATS – Steel Magnolias 2018

Noda Review – September 2018

Author: Richard Fitt

Just as every Cinema/theatregoer will have a favourite director or actor, so the same can be said of Amateur theatre; and as I have shared the stage with one of the actors I knew I would be in for an enjoyable evening.

BATS are currently a nomadic group, not having a permanent home. The last time I saw them was in a large school hall with a huge stage, This time I found myself in a small Methodist Church with a raised platform serving as the small stage to hold all the paraphernalia of a hairdressing saloon for their latest production, Steel Magnolias. The seating which was practically full was all flats so not many rows had a particularly clear view of said stage, which was a pity because they had gone to a lot of trouble to set the scene.

With that said the set and props Designers, Rusty and Melanie Wilcox had done an amazing job. Wash basins (sadly I’m told, the planned running water had to be abandoned owing to a pump malfunction, ladies I can tell you it made no difference to my enjoyment of the evening) Salon chairs, mirrors, sofa, shelves and all the paraphernalia needed to run Truvy’s Beauty Salon in Chinquapin, Louisiana, complete with well painted shop sign was intelligently placed on that tiny stage with enough space left for the actors to do their stuff. Nice work.

Lighting by Jonathon Wing lit the stage well and certainly helped create the steamy atmosphere of the deep south very well. However, it was obviously not easy in this makeshift theatre to just light the stage area and draw the audience in, as we found ourselves almost as well illuminated as the actors.

Sound by Tim Gardiner was excellent with the music and 80’s radio station particularly spot on and atmospheric. Not sure the gunshots were immediately and easily identified as gunshots though.  Perhaps it was my new hearing aids!

The play is set in Chinquapin, Louisiana between 1982 and 1984 and takes place entirely in the beauty Salon of Truvy Jones played here by Kerry Hewish. It follows the same plot of the film minus the male characters; even though they are referred to from time to time.  It opens with her hiring a young assistant, later to become a born-again Christian, Annelle Dupuy-Desoto (Erin Crockford) who has fallen on hard times after her husband has gone on the run from the police and left her penniless. Enter four regular customers, Clairee Belcher (Natashia Leftwich) the widow of the former Mayor, mother and daughter M’Lynn Eatenton (Melanie Wilcox) and Shelby Eatonton-Latcherie (Sarah Riley), a type one diabetic whose wedding day it is, to be joined later by the tour-deforce that is Ouiser Boudreaux (Kay Young), a belligerent but lovable, dominating, wealthy curmudgeon.

The action follows the lives of the 6 characters over the next two years as Shelby, against doctor’s advice become pregnant gives birth and how the tragic consequences of doing so affect all their lives.

This is a wordy play with relentless action and nonstop business and Director Melanie Wilcox did a top notch job of drilling her cast. I take my hat off to her for both taking on a major role and directing, not an easy task at the best of times! However, what she created was a top-quality team of actors playing off each other with real understanding. It really was like watching a group of people who had known each other for years and met regularly to indulge in the local gossip. They were all totally relaxed and comfortable in their own skins as well as with each other. It was an absolute joy to watch and what made the acting of the highest calibre was the way they were listening and reacting to each other all the time.  A perfect example was Ouiser being told her hands were like steaks, across the salon she went and put some hand cream on all the while still listening to the conversation still going on.  Seamless!  It really was a master class of reactive acting. Also a special mention for both Truvy and Annelle who really did carry out hair styling on the other actors throughout the play. What was also excellent was although each actor played homage to their original they didn’t fall into the trap of trying to clone them, each actress made the part their own in a measured and intelligent way. The final scene after (spoiler alert) Shelby’s death was so charged with emotion and the tension was so palpable, at least two of the cast were actually crying, that the audience literally exploded with laughter when Clairee pulled the stunt of suggesting M’Lynn should hit Ouiser,. You are unlikely to see better acting than that. It was a top team all round and it was a real pity that this show a was (owing to licencing problems) only scheduled for two performances, it deserved to run for weeks!

I came with the expectation of being entertained and I was not disappointed in anyway.