Full marks for bringing this production to North Somerset
Published by Carole Deacon, Nailsea People - 16 December 2011
It was a fantastic first night for the pantomime at The Playhouse, Weston, with the young and not-so-young audience cheering, booing, clapping and shouting 'it's behind you' for all they were worth… Read more...
A lovely festive treat...gets a big thumbs up!
Reveiwed by Holly, WestonSupermums - 15 December 2011
On Wednesday night my 6 year old daughter and I were lucky enough to wrap up warm and join another Mummy and her 6 year old to walk through the Christmas lit streets to the 7pm showing of Aladdin at the Playhouse… Read more...
Aladdin- The MUST see pantomime of 2011
Review by Samantha Clark, Mums Diary - 15 December 2011
Take a journey to a whole new world where fun and laughter entertain the whole family. There is something for everyone this year at The Playhouse Theatre, where you can see your favourite fairytale and pantomime characters come to life… Read more...
Triple whammy at Weston!
Published Thursday 15 December 2011 at 12:29 by Jeremy Brien, The Stage - 15 December 2011
Although it is 10 years since the illustrious Simmons Brothers played their last pantomime together as Captain and Mate at the Birmingham Hippodrome, Keith Simmons is as prolific as ever. Partnered now by his son Ben, he has come up with a triple whammy at Weston-super-Mare this year - rhyming scriptwriter, director and Chinese policemen double act, as the splendidly named PC Me and Sergeant You… Read more...
Magic, mayhem and a touch of innocent romance
Published Monday 12 December 2011 at 12:37 by Paul Vale, The Stage - 12 December 2011
This popular tale of Jack and his quest to rid the land of the evil giant Blunderbore has long been a pantomime favourite, providing as it does, plenty of opportunity for magic, mayhem and a touch of innocent romance… Read more...
You haven't lived till you've seen it!
Published Monday 12 December 2011 at 11:57 by Graham Gurrin The Stage - 12 December 2011
This show’s heart is in the right place. The excellent singing voices of Carys Gray (a particularly soulful Lilac Fairy), Sarah Thatcher (Princess Aurora) and Gary Tushaw (Prince Robin) are too often drowned by synth and percussion, yet the audience doesn’t seem to mind - it’s too wrapped up in the thrill of live theatre… Read more...
Comic rocket thrust in da hood!
Published Friday 9 December 2011 at 17:13 by Richard Edmonds, The Stage - 09 December 2011
Richard the Lionheart is but a minor presence in this bizarre panto retelling of the old tale of Robin Hood, Maid Marion et al. There were definitely no babes at risk in Sherwood when Robin lorded it in the greenwood, but this is Holman and Billings’ version of the legend, tailored for their extremely able principals… Read more...
Aladdin wows the crowds at the Palace Theatre, Newark
Lincolnshire Today’s avid theatregoers Angela Cooper and Tom Soulby recently attended the Palace Theatre in Newark for the opening night of this year’s panto spectacular, Aladdin. - 12 December 2011
The Palace Theatre is a beautiful, historic theatre, currently celebrating 96 years of showbusiness, so it was the perfect place to play host to one of the best versions of the children’s classic we’ve ever seen… Read more...
Never a dull moment in Newark
This year’s pantomime at the Palace Theatre, Newark, is the best the town has ever seen and is full of Eastern promise. - 11 December 2011
There is an abundance of colourful costumes, sensational sets, creative choreography, mesmerising music, silly slapstick and superb songs — appealing to all ages… Read more...
This show deserves to be a sell-out
Reviewed by Graham Keal, Newark Notts - 16 December 2011
You don’t need to be a professional critic to know what to think about this year’s Palace Panto – Jane and Christine, sitting next to us in the rear stalls, summed up the audience reaction perfectly… Read more...
Panto of the year!
Published Thursday 22 December 2011 at 13:12 by Bernard Bale, The Stage - 22 December 2011
This fantastic pantomime has the lot - comedy, great music, a really strong cast of top performers, very good and topical scripting, super sets, excellent direction and choreography… Read more...
It's a perfectly balanced production that works!
Published Monday 19 December 2011 at 10:19 by Scott Matthewman, The Stage - 20 December 2011
In any pantomime, having one member of the cast who is considerably better known than the rest of the ensemble risks overbalancing the whole production. Rickmansworth’s Cinderella faces such a risk in the casting of tenor Jonathan Ansell as Prince Charming. Thanks, though, to stalwart direction and a visibly strong team ethos, such risk is minimised… Read more...
Rarely will you hear a crowd of children so utterly engrossed...
Aidan Phillips, Watford Observer Published 16 Dec 2011 - 16 December 2011
Experience oozed from every corner of the stage at The Watersmeet Theatre last Friday night. The career biographies of the main actors were so long I hadn’t even finished reading by the time the show started, despite arriving 45 minutes early. Needless to say, I had high expectations… Read more...
A great family night out
Harriet Ernstsons, Redditch Standard - 16 December 2011
THE GOODIES, the baddies and of course lots of audience participation - it was all there in the latest pantomime to hit the Palace Theatre stage… Read more...
Pulls out all the stops...pure gold
Published: 16 December 2011 Liz Coggins Yorkshire Post - 16 December 2011
More of a fairytale drama, it is not an easy task to give Beauty and the Beast the pantomime treatment but Paul Holman’s production pulls out all the stops… Read more...
Pure feel good factor!
Jennie Dixon, The Public Review - 07 December 2011
In true fairy tale style, the Pantomime at Worthing’s Connaught this festive season is that of Cinderella (Naomi Slater). Baron Hardup (John Lyons) remarries when his wife, Cinderella’s Mother dies and gains two more daughters called Hannah and Montana (Roger Darrock and Stephen Howe)! Cinderella is forced to do house hold chores and bullied by her heartless and unkind ugly sisters. They stop her from going to Prince Charming’s ( Richard Hurst) magnificent ball at the palace; until of course, Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother (Amanda Barrie) steps in and saves the day along with the help of the Baron’s trusted servant Buttons (Ian Jones)! The beautiful pauper girl falls in love with Prince Charming but is forced to cut short her night of fun before everything the Fairy Godmother has created for her disappears midnight. The Prince vows to find the girl who misplaced her glass slipper (Cinderella’s as she ran away!) and marry her! After much searching, and attempts to thwart the Princes’ mission by the ugly sisters, he finds Cinderella, marries her and everyone lives happily ever after!… Read more...
Top-notch family entertainment...classic and exceptional
Anne-Marie Krolick, The Argus - 07 December 2011
Kicking off the season of all things panto is Cinderella at the Connaught Theatre, Worthing… Read more...
Enthusiasm, energy and charm
The Public Review Glen Pearce - 16 December 2011
Forget us critics, for a true barometer of a productions success you should always watch the reactions of the children in the audience. At 10.15am on a chilly Wednesday morning the Marina Theatre Lowestoft is full of expectant faces of school children as the Jack And The Beanstalk company give their all at a frankly unsociable hour to be in a theatre… Read more...
A spectacularly good show
Published Thursday 15 December 2011 at 12:31 by Tony Mallion The Stage - 15 December 2011
If ever there was a happy ending it’s this year’s panto at Lowestoft. After a couple of years of uncertainty as the occupiers of Stoneybroke Hall (also known as Waveney District Council) tried to offload the Marina and even advertised a potential change of use along came our hero, theatre manager Martin Halliday and the Friends organisation with a successful bid to create a new management trust… Read more...
16 December 2011
It was a fantastic first night for the pantomime at The Playhouse, Weston, with the young and not-so-young audience cheering, booing, clapping and shouting 'it's behind you' for all they were worth.
Star of the show John Challis who played second hand car dealer Boycie in the hit BBC series Only Fools And Horses is the evil magician Abanazar in an adventure of spectacle, slapstick and song.
This traditional pantomime was littered with contemporary and local references from digs about the bank balance of X-factor judge Simon Cowell to lack of action by town councillors to solve issues.
There were puns about the inhabitants of Bridgwater and picking flowers in Grove Park, Weston, but what was great was the show was aimed at a family audience.
Among the theatre-goers was Gladys who was celebrating her 100th birthday and eight-year-old Trinity who won people's hearts during the audience participation slot when she said firmly she wasn't going to make anymore pig honking noises during the singing of Old MacDonald's Farm.
This is a wonderful wholesome pantomime without the smutty innuendo parents have come to dislike.
Its comedy was slick slap-stick and its culture a mix of music hall, opera and modern pop.
Royal Opera star Paul Arden-Griffiths as Emperor Chop Suey made a magnificent entrance with a rendition from the Go Compare advertisement complete with lots of moustache twiddling.
And Terry Gleed as Wishee Washee, twin brother of Aladdin, enjoyed a 'my little fishee' repartee with the young people to remind folks of Boycie's hobby as a tropical fish breeder.
The 'for richer or poorer' love story is full of Eastern promise and is played with aplomb by Craig Daniel Adams of Hollyoaks fame as Aladdin and Cat Sandion, of CITV Hhi-5, as Princess Jasmine.
The hilarious double act of father and son Keith and Ben Simmons, who are joint directors of the show, as PC Me and Sergeant You demonstrated superb comic timing in the style of the late, great Tommy Trinder.
This is a colourful Christmas show with fabulous costumes and amazing sets and props.
Widow Twankey is played by drag artist Jason Sutton who appears in a different over-the-top costume for every scene with some tremendously imaginative headwear.
The energy and pace of the performers is breath-taking especially the acrobatic dance routines and as always the youngsters from the Tina Counsell School of Dance and Drama are delightful.
Full marks to The Playhouse, Weston, for bringing this production to North Somerset.
Actor John Challis ended the show with a plea for 'live' theatre and asking the audience to tell friends to buy tickets and come and see the show.
The three-year-old I took to the show told her mum as soon as she arrived home: "Abanazar says you have to go and see Aladdin."
I couldn't have said it better myself.
Aladdin runs until Sunday, January 8, with evening and matinee performances.
For further details call the box office on 01934 645544 or go online at www.theplayhouse.co.uk.
15 December 2011
On Wednesday night my 6 year old daughter and I were lucky enough to wrap up warm and join another Mummy and her 6 year old to walk through the Christmas lit streets to the 7pm showing of Aladdin at the Playhouse.
My 6 year old was very excited, in part because we saw Cinderella at the same venue last Christmas, and she was fondly recalling the silliness of the panto on our journey there. As the show started at 7pm meaning we didn't get home until 10.30pm, I would strongly recommend an earlier performance if you don't want tired and grumpy children the next day! Was it worth it though? Oh yes it was!
The show began with hissing and booing as Abanazar (John Challis) entered the stage. "We're only booing him because he's pretending aren't we Mummy? He's not really a bad man." The little wise one reassured, we were set up for the rest of the show. And how we very much enjoyed it! Aladdin (Craig Daniel Adams) in particular lit up the stage with his smile and energy. When he was dancing it really felt as if he - and the rest of the cast - were truly enjoying themselves, which helped us to do exactly the same.
Some of the singing was particularly enjoyable, especially the operatic wonders from the Emporer (Paul Arden-Griffith) What a voice! And such an unusual twist too. The litte ones enjoyed the versions of modern pop songs the cast belted out for us, and the cultured one in the group was impressed by the Gilbert and Sullivan number.
This was panto though - and the highlight for adults and children alike were the VERY silly moments! The policemen (father and son Keith and Ben Simmons who also directed the show) with their word play and disappearing box caused hilarity in the six year old reviewers. But my favourite, without a shadow of a doubt, was the perfectly camp Wishee Washee (Terry Gleed)... "SHOW US YOUR FISHY WISHY!" He did a fantastic job of really getting the audience involved and had my own silly smile spread right across my face as soon as he came back on stage.
The panto is a lovely festive treat, and a big thumbs up is deserved to everyone involved in the production. If you want to enjoy a few hours with your family this festive period and have a good old giggle, you could do a lot worse than this.
- by Holly
Aladdin is on at The Playhouse, Weston, till 8th January 2012
15 December 2011
Take a journey to a whole new world where fun and laughter entertain the whole family. There is something for everyone this year at The Playhouse Theatre, where you can see your favourite fairytale and pantomime characters come to life.
I went to see Aladdin on the 14th of December and it was a Christmas highlight for me. The whole cast provides fantastic, enjoyable and comedic entertainment, PC Me and Sergeant You in particular had me laughing off my seat.
There is spectacular scenery, live band, operatic singing, sword fights, a magic carpet ride- created by the world famous Paul Daniel’s, pyrotechnics, glitz and glamour, sing-a-long songs, romance and plenty of audience interaction. There really is something for everyone. A personal highlight were the casts amazing singing, dancing and of course the glamorous, sparkly costumes!
This star-studded cast deliver a fantastic performance and it is an excellent, traditional way to begin the festivities. I could not recommend this pantomime highly enough.
Aladdin is at The Playhouse Theatre, Weston-super-Mare from now until the 8th January 2012.
Contact the box office now; 01934 645544 to book your magic carpet ride today.
15 December 2011
Although it is 10 years since the illustrious Simmons Brothers played their last pantomime together as Captain and Mate at the Birmingham Hippodrome, Keith Simmons is as prolific as ever. Partnered now by his son Ben, he has come up with a triple whammy at Weston-super-Mare this year - rhyming scriptwriter, director and Chinese policemen double act, as the splendidly named PC Me and Sergeant You.
Their presence alone ensures a maximum laughter quota - highlighted by their Olympic Games take on that old favourite If I Was Not Upon The Stage - and this is altogether a terrific pantomime, especially in the second half. There is a considerable bonus in having John Challis, an actor who has based his whole career on being a comic reprobate, making the most of his mocking humour and larger-than-life character as the nefarious Abanazar.
Jason Sutton and Terry Gleed handle the traditional comic business with aplomb as Widow Twankey and Wishee Washee. Far from traditional, though, is the Chinese Emperor of operatic tenor Paul Arden-Griffith, who brings the house down with a superb rendering of Nessun Dorma at the wedding of those two cool customers, Craig Daniel Adams in the title role and Cat Sandion as Princess Jasmine.
12 December 2011
This popular tale of Jack and his quest to rid the land of the evil giant Blunderbore has long been a pantomime favourite, providing as it does, plenty of opportunity for magic, mayhem and a touch of innocent romance.
A popular face from television’s EastEnders, Angela Wynter makes a delightfully genteel Fairy Organic - she’s fresh and always expensive. Wynter guides our hero, Allan Jay as a strong Jack Trott, through the story and sets off a few fine vocals, most notably a rousing Proud Mary and a somewhat surprising adaptation of Sondheim’s Giants In The Sky.
Leon Craig may be no stranger to playing dames at seasides, with Brighton and Southend under his belt, but he should be welcomed to London with open arms. As Dame Trott, he is sassy, saucy and undoubtedly the star of the show in a collection of gowns and wigs that are as audacious as they are amusing.
Comedian Tony Rudd puts his fine impressionist skills to good use as Simple Simon and along with Herbie Adams’ King Crumble the pair make the most of the slapstick opportunities available to them. Phil Price’s circus skills bring a fun element to the Goose Fair as well as adding a touch of incendiary risk to the Giant’s Lair dance routine.
12 December 2011
This show’s heart is in the right place. The excellent singing voices of Carys Gray (a particularly soulful Lilac Fairy), Sarah Thatcher (Princess Aurora) and Gary Tushaw (Prince Robin) are too often drowned by synth and percussion, yet the audience doesn’t seem to mind - it’s too wrapped up in the thrill of live theatre.
Comic duties are carried by Adam Daye, a fine traditional dame, and Mike Newman Jnr, who has a great rapport with the children in the audience, as Muddles. Maurice Thorogood, who also directs, gives us a nicely avuncular king.
Sets and costumes are particularly spectacular, as are the laser graphics, whether as narration or depicting dragons for Prince Robin to defeat.
The show really takes off in the second half, with lots of traditional set pieces such as a tongue-twister sketch full of ad-libs, a wallpaper routine that’s a little restrained but will surely get messier as the run continues, and a ghosties and ghoulies song.
There’s a quirky yet largely appropriate mix of pop songs - Lady Gaga’s Born This Way being a case in point. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen it sung by Vicki Michelle as Carabosse held aloft by dancers with a laser show swirling around. She is having a whale of a time. So is the audience.
09 December 2011
Richard the Lionheart is but a minor presence in this bizarre panto retelling of the old tale of Robin Hood, Maid Marion et al. There were definitely no babes at risk in Sherwood when Robin lorded it in the greenwood, but this is Holman and Billings’ version of the legend, tailored for their extremely able principals.
The pattern of events is predictable - Robin Hood (the handsome Graeme Kinniburgh) takes a shine to Janine Pardo’s very pretty Maid Marion, and she has stars in her eyes from the word go. Into all this sugary sweetness creeps the villainous Sheriff of Nottingham, with one eye on the babes and the other on the outcome of the Crusades, since the Lionheart’s return spells personal disaster.
Did a theatre packed to the roof at 10.15am with several schools parties care about history? Not one bit - they cheered Robin and Marion and booed the sheriff, which is exactly what I would have done had I been a seven-year-old at Oakengates.
Ian Ganderton provides an intelligent Nurse Tilly Twitter, and the comics indulge their young audience, demanding high-decibel screams when the narrative dragged a bit. And as comics go, Neil Wheatley and Jason Francis provide comic rocket thrust. Here are two wonderful drolls whose manic clowning stopped the show, turning its willing young audience into spoof anarchists.
“Shall I kill him?”, asks Robin, as the sheriff begs for mercy. “Yes!” screamed the kids.
You wouldn’t have had greater enthusiasm for a thumbs down from Roman audiences at the Colosseum.
12 December 2011
The Palace Theatre is a beautiful, historic theatre, currently celebrating 96 years of showbusiness, so it was the perfect place to play host to one of the best versions of the children’s classic we’ve ever seen.
The star-studded cast included the fabulously funny Bernie Clifton, playing Wishee Washee, whose ability to wander off script and have his fun with the audience made the show for me, with Marshal Lancaster perfectly cast as Abanazar. The amazing costume changes of Widow Twanky, played wonderfully by Antony Stuart-Hicks tickled Tom in particular, especially the hilarious tea-cup dress he donned at one point. Aladdin, played by Rob McVeigh hit every note in his musical numbers with ease and he was a natural lead, holding much of the audience in the palm of his hand.
The singing and dancing in the show and the fabulous set changes, combined with the costumes brought a certain class to the pantomime as a whole. Too often pantomimes are ruined with cheap-looking props and an amateur-hour feel, but this was the real deal, truly something else.
The evening flew by and although my rugby-playing, typical 13-year old son thought he might be ‘too old to panto’ he couldn’t help but join in with the traditional bellows of “He’s behind you!” and “Oh no he didn’t!”, proving that you’re never too old to join in!
So let the Palace Theatre, Newark’s panto take you back to your youth, it’s well worth a visit! Book to avoid disappointment; the show runs until New Year’s Eve, so hurry!
11 December 2011
There is an abundance of colourful costumes, sensational sets, creative choreography, mesmerising music, silly slapstick and superb songs — appealing to all ages.
This is the fifth panto by Paul Holman Associates and it mixes all the traditional elements of the story with many modern touches and loads of audience participation.
A talented cast is headed by Bernie Clifton, Marshall Lancaster and Rob McVeigh, who put all their energy and enthusiasm into it, and there is never a dull moment.
The panto begins with a talking book revealing the treasures that await the evil Abanazar if he can find the boy Aladdin, and get him to retrieve a magic lamp from a dark and dangerous cave.
Marshall, in his first professional pantomime, is outstanding as Abanazar with a deep booming voice. He dubs himself the most handsome man in all of Newark.
Looking rather green around the gills he has the audience booing and hissing every time he comes on stage. He gets the audience to sing: “Oh yes, you are” to Come All Ye Faithful.
Rob is a likeable Aladdin and has a great singing voice, especially in Til The Sun Goes Down and Fight Fire With Fire. He is matched by Victoria Scott as Princess Jasmine, looking pretty as a picture and putting a powerful soprano voice to good use in The Sun And I. Their duet, Hey Baby, I Think I Want To Marry You, goes down a treat.
Bernie is undoubtedly the star of the show as Wishee Washee and has the audience eating out of the palm of his hands, with plenty of ad libs.
He teaches us how to do the Willie Carson jungle wiggle and we have to do that every time he comes on stage. He also gets us to look after a duck egg. If anyone goes near it we have to shout: “Don’t touch that crispy duck.”
Among the highlights are Bernie chucking a giant sausage roll into the audience, trying to deflate a gigantic deep sea diver, being joined by his ostrich, Oswald, in a dance routine, and singing a fantastic rendition of Nessun Dorma.
He works his magic when four children join him to perform Roger Jackson Had A Farm. One told him he was weird, while the other said the floor was sticky.
The ghost scene is hilarious, especially when the ghost trips on his costume and slides across the stage, with the cast and the rest of the audience laughing. It is so realistic that most people thought he had really hurt himself. I checked afterwards and was told it was all part of the show.
No panto is complete without a dame and Antony Stuart-Hicks, sounding rather like Lily Savage, wears a concoction of colourful outfits and wigs as Widow Twankey, including a China tea cup.
One of the highlights is her version of Jesse J’s Price Tag, backed by dancers from the Southwell-based Tozer Studios.
The children and dancers impress with their dance routines, choreographed by Hayley-Jane Simmons. They make a real impression dressed as mini ostriches.
Drew-Levi Huntsmen and Jake Lindsey provide much of the humour as the deep-voiced PC Ping and the red-faced, squeaky-voiced PC Pong. They run around the stage and get their legs taped together by Bernie just before a dance routine.
Lisa Hanman is comical as the Slave Of The Ring, always chatting away on her mobile phone, while elegant and all-powerful as the Genie Of The Lamp. She also gets to do some fire eating.
Steve Bruus as the Emperor of China sings: “Go Compare,” and gets us to say: “He is the very delectable, highly respectable, emperor Chop Suey III” every time he comes on stage.
The gala night on Friday, sponsored by Tallents, was three hours of pure entertainment. Aladdin, directed by Peter Dayson, is on until December 31 so catch it while you can.
16 December 2011
You don’t need to be a professional critic to know what to think about this year’s Palace Panto – Jane and Christine, sitting next to us in the rear stalls, summed up the audience reaction perfectly.
“That was absolutely brilliant!” said Jane (or was it Christine?), after apologising for noisily joining in all the fun and shouting their responses.
No apology necessary Christine (or was it Jane?) – full-blooded audience participation is what panto is all about, and the stars of Aladdin milk every opportunity with alacrity.
Any lingering audience inhibitions were dispelled when Bernie Clifton as Wishee Washee passed a giant inflatable sausage out over the heads of the audience, causing pandemonium as it progressed around the entire auditorium.
As the identical twin of Aladdin (Rob McVeigh), Bernie was first to point out the disparity in their ages (“How come I’m the only one in the family with a bus pass?”) and he handled the audience with all the comic dexterity you’d expect from a seasoned veteran who still gets a real kick from generating countless laughs.
“That was pure self-indulgence for me,” said Bernie at the after-show reception,” delighting in the fact that I’d picked up on his periodic mini-impressions of 1940s comedy star Robb Wilton.
Rob McVeigh pulled off the musical numbers with aplomb and he and Victoria Scott as Princess Jasmine made an appealingly romantic couple – even though the courtship goes from nought to marriage prospects with breakneck speed.
Ms Scott also revealed a delightful soprano singing voice when she gave a beautiful rendition of The Sun Whose Rays Are All Ablaze from the Mikado as well as attacking pop numbers with brio.
Antony Stuart-Hicks as Widow Twankey threatened to steal the show at times in a spectacular succession of outlandish costumes and towering wigs, backed by a Scouse wit that had more than a touch of Lily Savage.
Mopping up the boos was TV’s Marshall Lancaster as the evil Abanazar, producing a booming voice and accent quite unlike anything we’ve heard in Ashes to Ashes are Life on Mars on the telly.
Lisa Hanman did a lovely double turn as the both Genie of the Ring (played as a chippie Brummie) and the Genie of the Lamp, while Drew-Levi Huntsmen and Jake Lindsay as PCs Ping and Pong plus Steve Bruus as the Emperor of China proved that this was a cast with no weak links.
The dancers and children from the Tozer Studios were excellent too and the whole production – costumes, sets and the sheer numbers on stage – comes across as a lavish spectacular, with magical special effects from The Renleah Experience as an added bonus.
Another bonus on press night (along with countless in-jokes aimed at main sponsors Tallents Solicitors) was about 30 minutes of ad-libs and some brilliant interaction between Bernie and kids from the audience, brought on stage just before the finale.
You might think that three solid hours of non-stop entertainment would be too much for most people, but on the night everyone leaving the Palace had a smile on their face. Director Peter Dayson has pulled off a coup.
The show deserves to be a sell-out, so whether you are eight or eighty, get along to The Palace for a great night out.
Aladdin runs at Newark PalaceTheatre until December 31. To book call the box office on 01636 655755, or goto www.palacenewark.com
22 December 2011
This fantastic pantomime has the lot - comedy, great music, a really strong cast of top performers, very good and topical scripting, super sets, excellent direction and choreography.
Bernie Clifton lives up to his star billing with his usual brand of mayhem and hilarity, but well up to the task of staying with him are the other cast principals - the really excellent Ash (Antony Stewart-Hicks) who plays Widow Twankey, the very good Rob McVeigh as Aladdin, Marshall Lancaster a dastardly Abanazar and Victoria Scott a superb Princess Jasmine.
The music is in the capable hands of musical director Matt Marks and percussionist Steve Farmer. Paul Daniels gets a credit too - even though he is not in the show, he did design and set-up the very good flying carpet effect.
Difficult to pick a highlight because this Paul Holman Associates production is one long highlight, however, Clifton seriously singing Nessun Dorma in the wedding scene is a total surprise and a fantastic bonus to this excellent show.
Holman rubbed a magic lamp and this brilliant version of Aladdin appeared. This must surely be among the leaders for panto of the year.
20 December 2011
In any pantomime, having one member of the cast who is considerably better known than the rest of the ensemble risks overbalancing the whole production. Rickmansworth’s Cinderella faces such a risk in the casting of tenor Jonathan Ansell as Prince Charming. Thanks, though, to stalwart direction and a visibly strong team ethos, such risk is minimised.
True, the show opens with a solo number from the Prince where one would normally expect to be introduced to Cinders, but under the gaze of Louise Travis (acting as the show’s Fairy Godmother both onstage and off, as director) it works. It helps that Dandini (Jonathan Eio) is equally as strong, helping the pair become a genuine double act that is rare from those two characters.
That other double act, the Ugly Sisters, evokes the dame’s music hall origins with the performances of Oliver Gray and Dean Horner, each willing to provide feed lines for the other at a sometimes frenetic pace.
Suzanne David’s Cinderella could so easily have been overpowered here, but she makes the title character warm and vivacious, and a worthy equal for a Prince with an obsession for belting out Queen lyrics. One wonders, though, whether singing “Who wants to live forever” after Cinderella runs out of the ball is not a tad too melodramatic, even for panto.
16 December 2011
Experience oozed from every corner of the stage at The Watersmeet Theatre last Friday night. The career biographies of the main actors were so long I hadn’t even finished reading by the time the show started, despite arriving 45 minutes early. Needless to say, I had high expectations.
Thankfully, director Louise Travis knows how to make good use of her cast’s talents. Micheal Otton’s flair for comedy magic enhanced the affable role of Buttons, providing easily the most enthralling end to a pantomime I’ve ever witnessed.
X Factor star Jonathan Ansell’s singing ability has gained him fans so loyal they follow him wherever he goes, and it certainly added gravitas to the ex-G4 member’s role as Prince Charming. Not that his was the sole angelic voice on show; the duets with Suzanne David (Cinderella) were, undoubtedly, mesmerising to listen to.
As for the Ugly Sisters; was the term drama queen ever used so aptly? Their superb cohesion as a comic duo kept a smile glued to your face throughout, and those outfits. It looked like Cruella Deville had launched a designer range based on peacock plumage. To quote one young lad during the interval: "they just looked so freaky".
There was the usual barrage of terrible, terrible puns, and thank goodness there were no half decent jokes to spoil them. The script struck a good balance, with enough slapstick for the kids and a saucy dose of innuendo for the mums and dads, which naturally whizzed over the children’s heads faster than Button’s water pistol.
Essentially, pantos are for the young, and rarely will you hear a crowd of children so utterly engrossed. All were shouting to their hearts content the whole way through; all 100-odd kids and one journalist, who’s glad to be back in touch with his inner child.
16 December 2011
THE GOODIES, the baddies and of course lots of audience participation - it was all there in the latest pantomime to hit the Palace Theatre stage.
Star of the show had to be Ricky K who kept the crowd laughing throughout as the accident-prone but lovable Muddles, including a particularly hilarious scene wearing a shrunken football kit.
Former Eastenders star Stefan Booth and Helena Blackman, made famous by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s show How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria, proved to be the voices of the panto as Prince Stefan and Snow White with traditional songs mixed with chart toppers including Lady Gaga.
Woodland fairy Natalie East brought something different to the show with her aerial silks act which saw her performing a routine high above the stage and the list of principle characters was completed by Hi-De-Hi’s Nikki Kelly as Queen Grizelda, theatre veteran Peter John as the hilarious Dame Dolly Dumpling and menacing Phil W Green as Herman the Henchman.
Special mention has to go to the seven dwarfs and the rabbit who acted their parts extremely professionally considering their young ages, with barely a foot out of place.
Everything was of course pulled together by the talented group of backing dancers who ably supported the main characters.
All in all, it was a great family night out which brought the traditional fairytale bang into the modern day and delighted the audience, both young and old.
16 December 2011
More of a fairytale drama, it is not an easy task to give Beauty and the Beast the pantomime treatment but Paul Holman’s production pulls out all the stops.
As Count Christi Monto and the Beast, Ben Palmer is amazing. He has a fine voice, perfect mannerisms in both roles and, above all, the ability to create an air of pathos in the final scenes, whilst Abigail Welford is a wistful Beauty who blends beautifully with the Beast in the musical numbers.
Holman productions usually have a good strong comedy team and this year is no exception. There’s high energy comedy for the third year running from Jez Edwards, as Pierre, a firm favourite with children.
Paul Leno is Madame Fifi Camembert who must be one of the best of the new generation of panto dames. His cutting edge humour and comic timing, combined with his array of garish costumes (how does he walk, run and dance all night in those six inch heels) are pure gold.
As panto baddie Witch Hazel, Denise Nolan seems to be struggling with her character at times to find the right level, so some tiny tots in the audience asked if she was a fairy.
But she does come into her own finally with a Lady Ga Ga number – if only she could have been seen through the over-zealous emissions of the smoke machine.
Beauty and the Beast is traditional family pantomime at its best, guaranteed to appeal to both the young and not-so-young at heart.
07 December 2011
In true fairy tale style, the Pantomime at Worthing’s Connaught this festive season is that of Cinderella (Naomi Slater). Baron Hardup (John Lyons) remarries when his wife, Cinderella’s Mother dies and gains two more daughters called Hannah and Montana (Roger Darrock and Stephen Howe)! Cinderella is forced to do house hold chores and bullied by her heartless and unkind ugly sisters. They stop her from going to Prince Charming’s ( Richard Hurst) magnificent ball at the palace; until of course, Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother (Amanda Barrie) steps in and saves the day along with the help of the Baron’s trusted servant Buttons (Ian Jones)! The beautiful pauper girl falls in love with Prince Charming but is forced to cut short her night of fun before everything the Fairy Godmother has created for her disappears midnight. The Prince vows to find the girl who misplaced her glass slipper (Cinderella’s as she ran away!) and marry her! After much searching, and attempts to thwart the Princes’ mission by the ugly sisters, he finds Cinderella, marries her and everyone lives happily ever after!
I have never been to a Pantomime because the thought of a room full of screaming kids, un-funny slapstick and one liners filled me with dread. For the sake of my son this year, I held my breath and entered the theatre with anxious trepidation. Confronted with a big glittery covered curtain, I have to admit I felt a twinge of festive cheer.
Amanda Barrie as The Fairy Godmother narrates the whole show in rhyming prose; she’s perfect for the role with her warming cheeky “granny” grin, over the top poufy glittery dress and huge sparkly wand. Mr Lyons as the Baron is also well cast. His powerful booming voice matches his lordly presence but is equally loveable. Cinderella and Prince Charming come across as young, fresh professionals with amazing singing voices and competent dance moves. Darrock and Howe were hysterical as the Ugly sisters. They returned to the stage for every scene in a different ridiculously hilarious costume, great timing and were loveably evil with a splash of comedy for children and adults alike. The star of the show though has to be Buttons played by Ian Jones. He is a mixture of all the best bits of Lee Evans and Frank Spencer. Jones controls the show in the best possible way. Funny, cheeky, charming and along with the rest of the cast has an instant connection with the audience.
The Senior and Junior dancers can be really highly commended for polished routines and scene enhancing presence.
The set design was fantastic. It was really bold and enchanting, so much better than I could ever have anticipated and the amount of scenery that was changed throughout the acts (very smoothly) was also an eye-opener. Live music from the band pulls the whole show together with impeccable timing and not a bum note in sight. Truly fairy-tale-esq!
We saw the show on opening night but it felt like they were already half way through their season. So comfortable in their roles, ready to adlib, throw in a non-scripted joke and do everything they could to make sure the audience was involved, comfortable and happy. If they were this good now, they can only get better. Cliché maybe, but there really is something for everyone.
I beseech anyone and EVERYONE in the Worthing area and beyond to not spend a tenner on some rubbish present for the office Secret Santa but go to the theatre with your family and friends. I came out a complete Panto convert and am already planning a second visit. It was an amazing feel good, laugh a minute show with some fantastic music, singing, dancing and jokes. This is a night both my son and I shall remember for a long time for the pure feel good factor. Magical!
07 December 2011
Kicking off the season of all things panto is Cinderella at the Connaught Theatre, Worthing.
It is quite simply the quintessential pantomime experience. Pitched perfectly for a family audience, Paul Holmans’ production avoids the pitfalls of over-contemporising and faddy popularist affectations.
The show sticks with a set of fail-safe panto guarantees – a brilliantly cast team of talented all-rounders headed by the charmingly enigmatic Amanda Barrie as the Fairy Godmother; a glitter-infused set with plenty of razzle-dazzle, complete with a snow machine and ponies; a host of fabulous costumes; a strong script peppered with local references; gags old and new – and all of this is delivered with a whole heap of energy and the occasional contemporary twist.
The Connaught’s popular decision to stick with the traditional form helps demonstrate that a little collective escapism can go a long way to offset the current political doom and gloom.
As the magic develops, the relief is palpable across the audience as grandparents, parents and children all pitch in to the classic participation rituals, satisfying our culture’s unique time-honored tradition.
It is impossible to pinpoint exactly what makes this production so successful, but certainly much of it is down to the chemistry between the cast, which is hilariously illustrated by the fun they have when things go wrong!
Cinderella is quite simply the best-loved pantomime story of all time. Produced in a classic but exceptional way, this show delivers top-notch family entertainment and encapsulates exactly what the festive season should be all about.
Until December 31. Connaught Theatre, Marine Parade, Worthing. Call 01903 20620
16 December 2011
Forget us critics, for a true barometer of a productions success you should always watch the reactions of the children in the audience. At 10.15am on a chilly Wednesday morning the Marina Theatre Lowestoft is full of expectant faces of school children as the Jack And The Beanstalk company give their all at a frankly unsociable hour to be in a theatre.
With a flash and a bang, Fairy Organic appears to tell us all is not well in Sunnyvale. While young Jack is madly in love with Princess Amelia the King is unlikely to let her marry a poor peasant. The king has other things on his mind though with a terrible giant terrorising his kingdom and Jack’s mother, Dame Trott, lusting after his Majesty.
The story is of course familiar but Keith Simmons and Paul Holman’s script treats the well trod tale with a lightness of touch, keeping the key elements but allowing plenty of room for the requisite panto slapstick. After Jack is forced to sell the family cow, events are put in place for a confrontation with the giant and an outcome that will change everyone’s future.
Despite the earliness of the hour the company don’t hold back with their performance. While some of the more adult jokes may escape the younger audience they are still delivered with total conviction.
Sue Hodge’s fairy is a modern, environmentally-friendly sprite, no gossamer wings here, just a witty repartee and a quick put down. While Hodge’s ‘Allo ‘Allo pedigree may have evaded many of the youngsters, it doesn’t stop them cheering in all the right places. The same problem faces Bobby Crush as the outlandish Dame Trott, the piano maestro may be unfamiliar to the children but the comedy delivery overcomes and recognition issues. Crush thrills in a variety of increasingly over the top fashion creations and for older members of the audience shows that he can still tickle the ivories. Despite valiantly battling a cold, this is a delightful dame.
More easily recognisable for younger viewers, Hi-5’s Chris Edgerley gives a charming Jack, singing beautifully and sharing a real chemistry with Sophie Bloom’s Princess Amelia.
There is also an engaging Simple Simon from Adam Kelly, make his pitch for most impressive panto entrance of the season as he arrives on stage unicycling and juggling cats. Demonstrating a real flare for magic and comic timing, Kelly instantly warms to the young audience, bringing them onside and knowing just when to push the interactive button.
Debbie Flitcroft’s production does occasionally lose pace in scene transitions and could benefit from a few minutes being trimmed off its running time but, overall, the production impresses. This is a traditional pantomime that serves as a good introduction to the genre for a new generation. A talking toucan, plenty of slapstick, audience participation, song and dance ensure everyone leaves with a smile – well perhaps apart from those soaked by Dame Trott’s supersoaker (she has a good aim for critics!) and the poor picked on teacher (as Woods Loke Primary School’s Mr Graham will surely attest).
It may not be the largest or most lavish panto in the land but what Jack And The Beanstalk lacks in size it more than adds up for with enthusiasm, energy and charm. And what about that young critical audience? Judging by the sheer volume of cheers, boos and hissing and the rapt attention this panto is just the beans
15 December 2011
If ever there was a happy ending it’s this year’s panto at Lowestoft. After a couple of years of uncertainty as the occupiers of Stoneybroke Hall (also known as Waveney District Council) tried to offload the Marina and even advertised a potential change of use along came our hero, theatre manager Martin Halliday and the Friends organisation with a successful bid to create a new management trust.
And what better way to kick off the new era than a spectacularly good show from the stable of Paul Holman - whose career began in the town staging shows with local amateurs? It’s the second outing for PHA but what a strong one from director Debbie Flitcroft who really sets a cracking pace.
Topical references bring even more sparkle to a script performed with gusto by a cast who all give 110 per cent. Diminutive Sue Hodge is delightfully dotty as the fairy, Chris Edgerley is a dashing Jack, Dame Bobby Crush is on top form and adds that bit extra with his piano playing, while Adam Kelly is a big hit with his energy, illusions and animatronic toucan. What a treat to have the song sheet replaced by kids taking part in magic tricks.