MARTYN'S MIX - THE ECUMANIACS
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To be honest, I never thought I would dress up in weird clothes, slap some make-up on and generally make a fool of myself in front of hundreds of people!! No way!!! Never!!! Not in a million years!!!. Then it happened!

Way back in 1993 I just happened to be supping some ale with a friend of mine, making good conversation when the subject suddenly turned to amateur dramatics and pantomimes, and this friend of mine just happened to mention that he was the musical director and they were short of men to sing in the chorus. He then asked a somewhat silly question.... "Would I be interested in taking part?".... Now, upto that moment the only "acting" I had done was a school nativity play, some 16 years earlier (which I did not enjoy very much, if I remember) so I didn't really have the desire to "break a leg". Unfortunately, the amount of alcoholic liquid I had drunk was maybe a little excessive and my brain did not know what it was doing. I replied "Of course, I'd be glad to help out!!". When I sobered up the next day I wondered if I had said the right thing, especially when I went along to my first rehearsal. But everyone was so friendly and made me feel at home, so within a few weeks I found it tremendously enjoyable.

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I started off playing a small part in the chorus in "Babes In The Wood and Robin Hood", singing a few songs, which I didn't mind. As the years went on I played more important roles. I was a court herald called Wispa in "Sleeping Beauty" (the panto had characters named after chocolate bars) which was the first time I had to learn substantial chunks of text, which was difficult at first but became easier as time went on. I enjoyed that. Then I was Buttons in "Cinderella", my most testing role on stage, having to sing solo (gulp) and having moments on stage all by myself (double gulp), but that was a pure adrenaline rush from start to end. Then I played two characters in "Aladdin", Jimmy the village idiot (talk about typecasting!) and a palace genie (which was most interesting as it meant having to wear very interesting clothes - and having a lot of my upper torso bared to the world! - and having to have a lot of bronzing make-up applied so I didn't glare under the stage lights!!!!). Hmmm! That was an enjoyable pantomime too. Then came a shock change of roles. For "Beauty and the Beast" I wasn't sure what part I would play on stage - but as it turned out the director had other plans for me! For several years I have dabbled on electronic keyboards and have become quite proficient at bashing the ivories, but I have never had any lessons and plonking sheet music in front of me does not help in the slightest - I cannot sight-read music. Now one day the director overheard me tinkling on the piano during a rehearsal and asked me to be the musical director for the latest panto. I nearly fainted. But I agreed and after 6 months hard work and 22 musical sequences later I unleashed my raw talent on 500 strangers in the audience. Another adrenaline rush, and great fun!

Over the years a number of friends have watched me perform - some of them all too keen to poke fun at me beforehand, but certainly went away impressed with what they saw. The Ecumaniacs always try to put on the most professional shows that we can, and it is always a great feeling when the audiences show their appreciation at the end of performances. If you have ever thought about being on stage but were afraid - don't be - I recommend it to anyone.

I have a website devoted to the group, with links to other panto and drama groups. So if you have a moment and are interested, please click on our large logo above to transport yourself to the world of pantomime.

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