7th February 2015
This interesting Panto tale with a humorous script by the well known writer John Morley has delighted generations of children. The central plot in this version revolves around a hard up circus owner Sadie Spangle, the dame role, played with panache by Chris Dews. Goldilocks, her daughter aided by all the circus performers, try to prevent the evil Benjamin Black a rival circus owner from taking over Sadie’s circus.
Barry Harrison-Fudge was a highly believable and charismatic villain as Black wearing the trademark Michael Jackson white gloves when singing “I’m Bad”. His evil assistant Pedro was played by Felix Cuthbert. Chris Dews as the Dame was suitably over the top with her hideous costumes and excelling in the pivotal role. Angela Richardson as Goldilocks, her pretty daughter in the title role did well throughout as did Sharon Welland in a typical red suit playing her suitor, Ronnie the Ringmaster. The traditional comic duo were Joey Wizzbang (Julia Heathcote) and Jazzy Wizzbang (Louise Worby) as two believable and gloriously incompetent clowns. The scatterbrained Belinda, the bareback rider, was the good fairy, played with delicious ditsy charm and great comic timing by the talented Catherine van’t Riet.
The Three Bears, the animal act brought in to revive Sadie’s Circus, were somewhat underused in this script. All three did extremely well and the porridge and bed scene in their home was well directed. They were played by Bill Pilcher (Father Bear), Natalie Davies (Mother Bear) and the charming Neave van’t Riet (Baby Bear).
The traditional ever amusing “behind you” scene was skilfully enacted. This production used an ape (Claire Williams) which was finally scared off when confronted by the face of the dame. This scene is an essential part of traditional Panto and will last forever, one hopes.
The costumes, presumably from the company’s in-house store, were exceedingly good, colourful (another necessity) and both fresh looking and well fitted (not always the case in amateur Panto). Wardrobe ladies Anne Lyth, Jeannie Metcalf and Audrey Wilson can be very pleased with their endeavours.
Make up too was of a high standard with a large variety of different characters, all of whom were well presented. Jay Garland, Nicki Payne and Sophie Shickell in charge should also take a bow.
This was a high quality production with many experienced principals – and it showed – backed by a young and enthusiastic chorus with some well rehearsed dancing under Heather Chaundy and Sophie Shickell, the two choreographers.
Set design was excellent and there were many scenes with scene changes well managed. I particularly liked the Bear’s cottage, where Goldilocks had eaten and slept.
The audience participants song suffered from a lack of children wanting to be called to the stage. In fairness, on the night I attended there were far fewer small children than usual in the fullish audience. However the scene went smoothly enough.
On a sad note, the much loved and highly experienced musical director Leighton Davies passed away rather suddenly earlier in the show week. A very touching tribute was paid to him at the end of the show and it was obvious how much he had meant to the company. Despite this huge blow and in true showbiz style, the show went on and succeeded brilliantly. Keyboard players Emily Riley and Jane Biggins stepped forward and rescued the day, alongside Richard van’t Riet on percussion.
I must say this talented company have a special spirit whether it be front of house, backstage or in performance and the audience enjoyed the show hugely, as did I. I applaud both the company and the joint directors Nicki Payne and Sophie Shickell on producing this sparkling performance.