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Christmas magic was dusted on us all – Review of Theatre Royal panto

Just Regional
Dec 22, 2014 5 mins read

Eeny Meeny Miney Mo..Where this Christmas can we go?
That can be a daunting decision with a copious choice of delights both festive and otherwise to choose from. So let’s subtract the ordinary yearly choices such as the cinema, bowling, swimming etc. from the equation and concentrate on three of the top attractions for families at Christmas.
Probably the most important is to take the children (and yourself) to see Father Christmas but which one to choose? Because let’s face it, Santa’s appear like Jack Rabbits on a hot day so which one to opt for? Then there is the carol service to dust off your vocals, with a selection of services in churches practically around every corner, which one to pick? And finally there is the most traditional of festive entertainment, the pantomime, with a selection of imaginary tales being enacted upon on just about every available stage so how do you decide?
Easy; just think of the word ‘magic’. Christmas is and should always be, a time of enchanting wonder and if you think of that before you part with your hard earned cash you won’t be wasting a penny.
There can be no better choice than the wonder of Thursford’s Fantasyland, to see Father Christmas, a carol service which swaps electric light for candle light creating a moving atmosphere and, no competition here, the THEATRE ROYAL, Norwich for a pantomime that is magic all the way.
The magical tale of Peter Pan at the Theatre Royal was waiting to enthral an eager audience and it must surely be incomparable with any other production. It immediately punched a vibrant impact with lasers, song, dance and colour as the curtain lifted and there was no rest until the curtain finally closed.
I lost count early on at the constant scenery changes. What a thrill! No chance to be complacent during this show! The quality, finish and sheer professionalism of their execution by unseen stage crew quite literally left me in awe. And that’s before a host of different characters were hoisted aloft to float and fly. There were amazing prop changes, a heaving ship in a storm, a large crocodile swallowing Captain Hook and a squirming octopus which filled the stage completely! I take my hat off to those unseen heroes.
The cast put as much effort into the show as did their invisible counterparts and the audience was quick to interact with them and join in the considerable fun.
Richard Gauntlett as Smee and his side kick Ben Langley as Starkey had a comfortable rapport with the audience, that and their amusing capers was the oil that made everything slick. Ben, with his considerable energy and Richard with his humour couldn’t be ignored and stole the show for me.
Charlotte Baptie as the title character Peter Pan floated impressively and scarily over the audience and throughout the show and was more than capable of playing a male role. A comment from my granddaughter, Macy, brought my attention to the fact that Peter Pan was missing her little pointy green hat! ‘Perhaps it floated away in the wind’ was my reply. She won Macy’s heart over when she sang the title song from the Disney film Frozen however and she forgot all about the absent hat!
Captain Hook (and Mr. Darling) was played by Kevin Kennedy and very admirably too. It didn’t take long for the audience to voice their dislike of the dire captain, with his evil diction and actions. My grandson, George was disappointed at having to wait for the whole show to see his nemesis, the crocodile and I had to agree with him.
Children are not afraid to voice their opinions and where I found the pulsating laser lights grouped in changing colours to indicate Tinker Bell novel, clever and brilliantly acceptable, Macy was disappointed that she didn’t get to see Tinker Bell’s dress! She added that she liked the lights but it would have been better if they were sort of in the shape of Tinker Bell! Maybe children make the better critics than adults (or maybe they should be left at home!)
Sinead Kenny as Tiger Lily made a pleasing to the eye Tiger Lily and her Indian entourage made a nice change with Red Indian dancing and was complete with yet another fantastic prop an authentic looking totem pole.
Every pantomime must have a ‘Dame’ type character played by a male in assorted garish dresses. This role was successfully fulfilled by Sid Sloane as Aunt Delilah and he soon won over the audience.
Ruth Betteridge as Wendy provided some nice solo singing with a pleasing voice and was the epitome of how a Wendy in Peter Pan should be.
If ever a fact is proven to be true, it was in this case, that a show is not made by the main characters alone. The supporting lost boys, Indians, mermaids, the children, the cute baby crocodiles and all others made this show the wonderful success it truly was and it certainly deserves a ‘not to be missed’ stamp of honour upon it.
I came away (and my mini critics) not only impressed but satisfied that a little Christmas magic had been dusted on us all, which is just what a pantomime should do.

Arlene Todd

Kevin Kennedy as Captain Hook

Kevin Kennedy as Captain Hook

Peter Pan_Ruth Betteridge as Wendy Darling_with John and Michael Darling

Sid Sloane as Aunt Delilah with the pirates

Sid Sloane as Aunt Delilah with the pirates

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