The experienced production team, led by director Rosie Withers, of Our Lady Operatic and Dramatic Society, St. Annes know exactly what makes an appealing pantomime-once again delivering an entertaining Christmas package.
The tale of Rumplestiltskin is tricky, as at its heart is a small bad man, always an unrewarding role.
Rob Fearn makes him steadily more creepy as the plot unwinds and the intensity of the audience’s uneasy booing increases.
Consequently there is oodles of good will for Leo Appleton as Madam Miller and Millie his daughter (Lyndsey Heron).
Appleton (“your friendly masculine mother”) is worth the price of admission on his own, displaying all the comic tricks of the panto dame, especially in the lead-in to the ever-popular YMCA.
Lyndsey Heron has to cope with a dim King (Christian Partington) and an orange-wigged Queen Mother (Kath Greenwood), a villainous Sir Rupert (Don King) and Sid Kick his sidekick (Nate Kelly), and the commendably clear-spoken Lola Fearn as Joe King.
All perform well, though the dialogue is sometimes too wordy in the first half. Ron Oddy, Sarah Rouse and Sofia Hardie support excellently.
Cleverly chosen songs from ‘We will rock you’ to ‘You’re the one that I want’, from ‘This is me’ to ‘I got you babe’ pleasingly delivered with effective backing from the chorus.
Musical director Pauline Hardie, Phil Thomas and Carolyn Clapham, also form an intentionally bizarre Greek Chorus, clad in togas, who warble out the backing do-waps to several numbers.
Angie Strickland’s live four piece band remains a delight. Lighting, the set, costumes and sound are spot on.
There’s a wonderful cameo too from Carolyn Clapham, unashamedly dressed as an oak tree, who belts out the bluesy ‘I put a spell on you magnificently’.
An audience singalong, well-executed ballet routine and a six foot cuddly owl do the same in a five star show.