So tonight is the first night for two and a half weeks that I haven’t spent in the company of these fine gentlemen in the Hawk’s Well Theatre.
The panto band is a interesting place to be.
You get to see the whole show every night from the vantage point of the audience, so are particularly qualified to judge how the show is connecting with them each night.
You get to see how the show develops over time, the small additions the actors make as they get more familiar with their roles.
And while most of us have short bursts of playing, we also have many long periods of watching while the dialogue happens.
Except the drummer. A good panto drummer not only plays his part in each song, but is always on alert, commenting on what he hears, emphasising the jokes, adding to the show.
And our drummer is great.
Ken ‘Tonto’ McDonald. Looking quite festive below.
Look over at him during the show and he is constantly primed – eyes on the action, sticks hovering over his cymbal, cowbell or hi-hat, ready to pounce on whatever he hears, using his judgement to help the audience react when and how the actors want them to.
Consistent. Alert. Accurate. For 150 minutes every night. For 16 shows in a row.
As he said to me before this run started – the panto is what you make it. Go in dreading doing the same gig each night and it will become a chore, but go in ready to add to the experience of both the actors and audience and you will find meaning and fun in your work.
Ken is a skilled drummer, with a great feel and a solid instinct for whatever music he is playing. But it takes a true pro to produce on a consistent basis like he has year after year for over a decade now.