Glady’s sweet welsh tones and her pursuit of Mr Fairbrother, the classic tune on the xylophone, Peggy’s determination to be a Yellow Coat, Ted’s dodgy dealings, sexual innuendos, and bizarre competitions we’re all part of the hilarious HAODS production of Hi-de-hi this week.
The 1980s classic comedy show was served up after a pre-show dinner of a 1950s typical holiday camp meal of cauliflower soup, sausage and mash (although ours came with chips) and spotted dick and custard (or our was rice pudding and fruit compote) in the HAODS studio (next to the Kenton Theatre) which had been grandly converted into the Hawaiian ballroom with large disco ball hanging from ceiling. The meal was cooked and provided by ‘Gordon Bleu Chef’, Stephen Luscombe of the Golden Ball.
Covid had unfortunately hit the production with leading man Gareth Watkins who was playing Jeffrey Fairbrother falling ill on the first night and Councillor Glen Lambert who was supposed to be making his debut role as Sgt Pritchard (policeman who was holiday). Alex Staunton who was due to play Barry Stuart-Hargreaves (male ballroom dancer) took up the leading role and Matt Daniels jumped into fill Barry’s dancing shoes.
With the only member of HAODS having welsh roots, Julie Huntington turned on her Gladys Pugh character with ease and charisma throughout. We loved though her ad-lib when the champagne glass bottom kept falling off. You wouldn’t have thought for one minute that Alex wasn’t destined to playing the leading man, his expressions and mannerisms were spot on for Mr Fairbrother. He was particularly good at acting drunk and the intimate interactions with Gladys. Peggy played by Jenny Sakal nailed her character too – it was like watching Sue Pollard all over again, particularly when she said Miss Cathcart! The whole cast were excellent and even when the music didn’t start for You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling, that didn’t worry them, Kevin Gingell (playing Ted) just carried on singing with Spike (Jake Thurnell-Willett) ad libbing.
The script was well written and even had a funny reference to another 80s sitcom Are You Being Served (no spoiler here), along with mother-in-law jokes and local references. We loved the joke about the camper who had lost her false teeth and Peggy who was trying to find them (it was alright she had another pair but they were only good for eating soup with!) The main story is who will get the chance to go to Mr Maplin’s new holiday camp in the Bahamas – will popular Sylvia be chosen, Mr Fairbrother and/or will Gladys go too?
Audience participation was a big part of the show with audience members invited to enter the ballroom dance and knobbly knee competitions, vote for the best Yellowcoat and to sing-a-long at the end.
The whole production was a real feel good show and it was good to be out see live, amateur dramatics at its best. HAODS have previously done other classic comedy shows including Black Adder, ‘Allo, ‘Allo and Are You Being Served. We wonder what next classic will get the HAODS magic?
There’s still time to see the show tomorrow night (Saturday 26 February) at 6.00pm. To book tickets go to https://kentontheatre.co.uk/event/hi-de-hi/123478/
Tickets are priced £32 and include dinner.