1948 ALI BABA AND THE FORTY THIEVES
Another repeat title. "This was no mammoth spectacle ...The charm of this production was its speed, smoothness, colour, tunefulness and grace... The dancing was a joy... a great tribute to the work of Miss Moya Kennedy.
June Bonniface in the title role, Mary Hill as the princess. "And then there was the Smallest Fairy! So very small, so very sure of herself, so very pretty. Susan Dolton, just five years old, stole all hearts. The big audience didn't worry her at all: she danced as though she did it for the joy of dancing, not because there were people in front of her."
Wendy Woolliams played principal girl to June's Aladdin. "But what of Widow Twankey's Cow, Claribel? Jill Langton and Edna Stocker, the front and back legs, can rest assured that, although they were unseen, they were, perhaps, the brightest stars of a very bright firmament of delightful young actresses in a grand production."
1950 BABES IN THE WOOD
The Folkestone Herald reports that the sweet little babes (Susan Dolton and Caroline Thomas) "even managed to resist a sly peep or two at the audience when they were supposed to be asleep!" Caroline writes: "The reporter's naivety amazed me at the time. Susan and I were already old stagers at the age of seven, and knew well that even woodland glade lighting dazzled the actors in the limelight spot and there was no point in peeping at the audience, but that a carefully practised eyelid technique allowed one to watch the Ballet of the Little Birds. I still remember my lines: 'And I want to grow up to be brave and strong, like Robin Hood!' I spoke from the heart for I did indeed long to become as tall and beautiful as June Bonniface." June's leading lady was Valerie Rye, and "Maureen O'Sullivan (Simple Simon) had the longest part and the responsibility for much of the humour. She showed herself as a comedian born ..."
"The Finale was tremendous: a cascade of colour and music and a triumph for the producer, and the final curtain left every member of the audience wanting more, as it always should and so seldom does."
Caroline: "For me, the Boy Babe, that finalé was a physical torment as I had been dressed in a white suit decorated with silver thread which gave me an itchy rash. Talcum powder was dusted all over me to give some protection, but it wafted out like steam from my neck, wrists and ankles as I walked down to the footlights to take my bow while resisting the temptation to have a good scratch. The audience must have thought I was on fire and that is how I felt."
Until now the pantomimes were attended only by the school's teachers, girls, their parents and friends. Following 'Babes in the Wood' several people wrote appealing for the public to be allowed to see the show, but Mr Hasson's response was that it would entail extra performances and the school could not spare the time out of studies. As the school grew, so did the number of parents wanting to come, and somehow we found the time for extra performances, but it was never open to the general public.
1951 THE SLEEPING BEAUTY
"In Isobel Drew, who played the Princess, we had surely the perfect Principal Girl. She looked charming, acted naturally, danced beautifully, and sung prettily, and she went through her long part with an ease and assurance remarkable in a fourteen-year old." Maureen O'Sullivan as Buttons clearly made an impression, too, for one of the juniors wrote a letter to her 'crush': "I think you were the best in the pantomime and you (sic) Voice was lovely. I wish I were you and be Buttons. P.S. I am sick of being a Rabbit. I'd rather be Molly or fairy."
1952 DICK WHITTINGTON AND HIS CAT
Isobel Drew was Dick with Vida Farhad as Alice. "Sally Harris as Susie Sunshine won all hearts. She scintillated throughout the show and is a delicious soubrette and a most talented little actress." Two performances were given that year.
1953 RED RIDING HOOD
"Possibly the name of St Margaret's is destined to go down in history as the school whose cricket XI created a record. Yet it seems that in the intervals between their sporting achievements they can attempt the formidable task of getting together before an audience which, since it does not consist only of school parents, might be deemed more critical than those usually found at school entertainments, something like 140 girls to present a full-length pantomime at the Theatre... The average age of the cast was under 11 years, the Principals were mostly 16 or 17." (Folkestone Herald).
"If you have never seen a St Margaret's pantomime you have missed, perhaps, the most remarkable achievement of its kind by any school, anywhere." (Folkestone Gazette).
"...the magical change from kitchen to lighted coach with real white ponies, from Cinderella in rags to Cinderella in her ball dress, took place before our eyes in a matter of mere seconds of enchantment." "Sally Harris was the ideal Cinders... my programme told me she is to make the stage her career and I am certain she will score a distinct success."
1955 GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS
"To anyone who has followed the run of St Margaret's pantomimes, the departure of Sally Harris and Isobel Drew seemed a bitter blow. How, and from where, could Mr Hasson replace two such talented girls? Well, he certainly waved his magic wand to some purpose for in Sally Chiverton with her first speaking part as the Princess, and Deidre Judkins with her first speaking part as Prince Charming, he gave to the audience a most charming and talented couple... these two fourteen year old girls acted like veterans but with a freshness and charm that won all our hearts." Three performances.
1956 SINBAD THE SAILOR
"A cast of 163 girls, 226 costumes, 11 sets of scenery, 3 ballets, 14 new and original songs!" A famous actress wrote: "...one tends to forget that they were school-girls and to assess it as a professional production."
1957 JACK AND THE BEANSTALK
Attended by over 4,000 people. "As scene followed scene we became more and more amazed to reflect that we were watching a children's performance." "I salute you, St Margaret's! I salute your artistry, your team-work, your talents! I salute your actresses, your singers, your dancers, your stage-managers, and even the charming young lady who wanted me to buy two programmes!"
1958 BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
"Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this remarkable show is that the skill of its producer makes it appear that everyone is thoroughly enjoying it all and that it all appears so effortless. I have said before, and I repeat it, that no other school anywhere in the world could stage anything like it." "Diane Gillegin, who exuded personality and sang delightfully in a soubrette part, was another success." Four performances.
1959 MOTHER GOOSE
"It had everything a good panto should have. It was fast; it was funny; it was a sheer delight to eye and ear. A great favourite, Sonia Hughes, was making her last appearance as leading comedienne and her performance as Idle Jack was brilliant. Her sense of fun, her facial expression, her versatility were all of a high order. And how she worked! A new Principal Boy, Susan Ramshaw, was making her debut, and it was a most auspicious one."
1960 ROBINSON CRUSOE
"John Bull's Christmas Party: what an enchantment! Very small children dancing as though they were really happy at a party and the smallest of them all hopping and skipping about as though her life depended on it."
1961 No pantomime due to Mr Hasson's illness.
1962 PUSS IN BOOTS
"...not, perhaps, as spectacular as some of the earlier pantomimes but to compensate for the lack of a stupendous transformation scene, this was surely the slickest, most cheerful, colourful and happiest of them all... the ease and grace of the dancers spoke volumes for Miss Kennedy's training. How well those young people use their arms!" Over 4,000 people watched this pantomime.
1963 HUMPTY DUMPTY
The Pleasure Gardens Theatre had closed and the school staged the show in its own hall in Grimston Gardens. "Mr Dudley Hasson,... with only a slight reduction of numbers in the cast, made use of the limited resources with great skill... The 'hit' of the show was probably Barbara Hodgson as 'Olga, the beautiful spy', a witty piece of character playing." Five performances.
1964 THE BABES IN THE WOOD
The first repeat title in the history of the school's pantomimes. "A cast of 105 girls between the ages of six and seventeen was so efficiently rehearsed that not one of them put a foot wrong in two and a half hours on a comparatively small stage."
1965 THE SLEEPING BEAUTY
This was the last St Margaret's pantomime.