HOWARD Ella and Andy Welch are at the helm of their sixth Rowntree Players pantomime, Sinbad.
All at sea – in a good way – at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, until Saturday (December 14), this rollicking romp finds the co-writers returning to The Arabian Nights: Tales Of One Thousand And One Nights, or 1,001 Scarbadian Nights, more precisely, as Welch’ storyline gives the seafaring adventure a Yorkshire shake-up.
Director Ella and co-writer Welch put the naughty into nautical by telling the story with significant artistic licence, especially for Graham Smith’s dame, Tilly Tinbad.
“In honesty, the seven voyages of Sinbad are invariably a disaster,” notes Welch. “They tend to end with the ship sunk and the crew lost. Not so many laughs in that!”
Enter the humour of Ella and Welch. “We’ve taken the bare bones of the stories – a young and eager sailor with a good heart and a taste for adventure – and we’ve set him on a course to fight pirates, rescue royalty and search for sunken treasure…”
“…But with plenty of silliness in between,” says Welch. “There’s the regular environmentally friendly, recycled comedy material, brilliant song and dance and what, we hope, is the biggest and best slosh scene we’ve ever done!
“I don’t want to give too much away, but needless to say the band in the pit are bringing brollies!”
In the sixth year of their writing partnership, Ella and Welch are confident that time is not jading them. “We’ve really started to find our rhythm as writers and know what bits we each sparkle at!” says Ella.
“Basically, unless we both laugh at a gag, it doesn’t make it; unless we both love a song, it doesn’t go in, but that’s become an instinctive filter that really helps us hone the script.
“It’s that need to appeal to every age and humour that remains the challenge, but I think we’re getting the hang of it.”
“Definitely,” decides Welch. “This year is an absolute belter: fast paced, great fun and totally ridiculous. What more do you expect from panto?!”
Rowntree Players present Sinbad, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, Haxby Road, York, until Saturday, December 14. Performances: 7.30pm plus 2pm Saturday matinee (sold out). Ticket availability is limited for the remaining shows, especially for Friday (only a few left). Box office: 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.