A junior chorus is a staple of the modern panto, and Robin Hood at Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is no different. Every year a group of young people from the local area are cast to play the villagers, minions and guards, singing and dancing to support of the production’s principal cast. This year, a call was put out and 30 children out of 141 auditionees, aged 9 to 16 were recruited to join the team of chorus members, who share 60 performances of Robin Hood during its run from 28 November 2019 – 5 January 2020.
Candidates were auditioned in June and auditionees had to be able to sing and dance to a high standard, as well as have some theatrical training. Recruited from Havering and the surrounding area, the chorus rehearsed on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Saturdays every week for three weeks.
The chorus are divided into three groups of ten: Team Oak, Team Willow and Team Sycamore, who rotate show to show.
(Top row, L-R) Selinah-Shallom Oloyede, Roni Stock, Kira McFaull, Alfie King, Alyssa-Isabella Ponton, Lucy Billington,
(Bottom row, L-R) Vinnie Kidner, Lucy Norton, Inez Weronika Danielak, Sydney Crollie
(Top row, L-R) Molly Perry, Imogen Grock, Isabelle Rice, Priya Kaur, Aimee Lampart
(Bottom row, L-R) Alexander Castles, Daisy Oludipe, Charlotte Christiansen, Joshua Neal, Amelia Rice
(Top row, L-R) Zara Ludlow, Mollie Greene, Rebekah Durrant, Ruby Coyte
(Bottom row, L-R) Robyn Russell, Saffiah Kelly, Faye Taylor-Thomson, Alfie Sellers, Josh Brown
(not pictured) Victoria Ferreira
Approximately half the chorus had had previous experience in Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch pantos, with the more experienced members serving as mentors to the newer performers. The chorus worked with creatives on the show, Douglas Rintoul, the director of the production, choreographer Sundeep Saini and musical director Tom Self.
Sydney from Team Oak says ‘I love taking part in panto, it is an amazing experience and a great opportunity to try many new things.’
Inez from Team Oak says ‘Panto is amazing! It’s so fun to be able to perform on stage, and to see the smiles on people’s faces. It’s an experience like no other.’
The Junior Chorus have also received glowing reviews from press:
‘Great to see the young cast dovetailing with the professionals so smoothly’ – The Havering Daily
‘The cast is supported by a Junior Chorus, [who] sang and danced wonderfully, and those who had speaking parts delivered their lines flawlessly’ – London Theatre 1
‘The cast is supported by a very game chorus of youngsters, whose simple but well-choreographed dancing by Sundeep Saini is a high point.’ – The Stage
‘What really made this panto were the Junior Chorus: high levels of energy and some fantastically delivered choreography they took the show to another level’ – Theatre Life
Several members of past junior choruses have gone on to have successful theatrical careers, including choreographer for Robin Hood, Sundeep Saini, Billy Irving who has starred in the UK tour of War Horse, and Samuel Ward-Smith, who starred in ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas at Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch in 2018.