Monday, 23 December 2013

Review 3 - Liverpool Post

December 19, 2013
Review by Philip Key

There's something comforting about traditional pantomimes with their familiar stories, familiar characters and familiar jokes.
What really matters is how well they are done and this production at New Brighton is done very well.
The cast is excellent, the costumes just fine and the settings are typically storybook. And for those who like music with their stories, there is a lot, barely a moment passing without a song, a dance, or both.
Writer Andrew Ryan provided the basic script of village lad selling the family cow for a bag of beans, growing a giant beanstalk and climbing it to defeat the evil giant in Cloudland but director Scott Ritchie says both he and his cast added their own topical elements.
That includes references to the recent New Brighton flood ("Morrisons is awash with bargains - there is a sale, a rowing boat..."). Fleshcreep calling the kids "plebs" and numerous name checks for places like  Caldy, Rock Ferry and Seacombe.
The show is very much a team effort with everyone getting a chance to shine including Liverpool singer Sonia, now something of a panto veteran, playing the Vegetable Fairy, a fairy who keeps forgetting which panto she is in.
Bubbling with high spirits, she also gets to sing her number one hit You'll never Stop Me From Loving You.
Wirral-born television children's  presenter Emma Nowell is a perfect princess, a beautiful blonde with a lovely singing voice while fellow kids' TV presenter Ed Petrie is Jack, her love interest and unlikely hero.
There is plenty of comedy with a red-nosed Nick Wilton as the ample Dame Trott bustling all over the stage, a likeable King from David Alcock and Mark James full of non-stop fun as Simple Simon. He often pops up with a daft invention including a DVD recorder ( a DVD stuck on a musical recorder) and delivers some of the old gags with aplomb ("It may be rubbish, but at least it's British rubbish").
Liverpool actor Mark Moraghan bellows to great effect as the evil Fleshcreep while the giant (Jon Kindon) is, well, gigantic.
Traditional elements include a ghost scene ("It's behind you!"), cream pies in the face, a pantomime cow and lots of lively dance scenes with a host of dancers, mostly from local dance and theatre schools.
A three-piece band under Steve Allan Jones delivers great music and in a nice touch they are joined at one stage by numerous animal puppets.
Overall this is a happy experience, indeed the essence of what pantomime is all about.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Review 2 - Liverpool Echo

December 19, 2013
Catherine Jones gets festive at an animated panto

You don't see many panto animals on parade these days. So the arrival of the eyelash-batting Daisy the cow in the midst of the Jack and the Beanstalk mayhem is a retro delight.
Daisy dances, Daisy runs rings around her owners the Trotts, and Daisy emotes soulfully when  she’s packed off to market to help pay the rent.
The production team at the Floral Pavilion, have worked hard on creating the visuals which make the fantastical fairytale real for its young audience.
There’s a proper giant, who has  giant furniture, and a beanstalk that rises magically from the ground and up into the gods.
At the centre of the theatricals is the story, such as it is, of farm boy Jack  (Childrens TV favourite Ed Petrie) and his battle against the fe-fi-fo-fumming giant to rescue the beautiful princess (Emma Nowell) and win her hand in marriage.
Nick Wilton’s colourful Dame Trott, pitched somewhere  between Les Dawson and Ken Dodd delivers mildly blue innuendo with a twinkle,  and Simple Simon, played by the energetic Mark James certainly knows well how to work a young audience.
Sonia too delivers a couple of rousing songs, and a jolly performance as the forgetful fairy, while Child Catcher-esque Mark Moraghan gets the best lines of all as the evil Fleshcreep, threatening to “come down there and paint all your Smarties the same colour.”
The big numbers are belted out with conviction – one involving a surprise and entertaining cameo from a gang of puppets.
As with most pantos, there’s a surfeit of musical numbers. Still, although every show on Merseyside seems to have featured Maroon 5 this season, at least here it’s Daisy the cow who MOOS Like Jagger.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Review - Wirral Globe

December 18, 2013
Our reviewer Peter Grant says the Floral's production is one of the strongest traditional pantos in the Merseyside area.

This is one of the strongest traditional pantos in the Merseyside area.
A colourful stage welcomes the audience with some sparkling routines; song and dance numbers and all from star performers who relay the gags with relish.
Pop star Sonia is faultless as the vegetable fairy who has a cute way of forgetting what panto she is actually in. Very funny idea threaded throughout.
She has always been able to switch from drama to musicals with ease.
Mark Moraghan, stage, tv and film star is the hilariously hiss-able Fleshcreep.
His asides to the audience come from a master craftsman.
Mark James, best known for reaching the finals of Britain's Got Talent as Simple Simon is simply perfect.
Aided by multi-talented Nick Wilton of EastEnders fame as Dame Trott, this daft duo must lose a lot of weight during this run due to the multi-layered costumes and all that running around on stage.
Jack is in the capable hands of popular CBBC presenter Ed Petrie - he is the dashing hero...isn't that right, boys and girls...and he woos our lovely princess, courtesy of Hi-5s Emma Nowell, we know we will be going to the wedding ball.
It's a nicely played romance in this top notch, family festive offering.
Numerous villagers make you feel you have stepped into a giant Christmas card.
And now for the giant - there is a magical entrance from a marvellous Mr Big who leaves children open-mouthed in amazement.
I was pretty shocked myself but I still wanted him to get his comeuppance ( I am still a kid at 55).
The four-piece orchestra are superb and keep the tempo rocking along.
Solo singers and ensemble pieces are toe-tappers of the first order.
Listen to Your heart , Monster Mash and the classic Higher and Higher are feel-good winners.
The script flows throughout so all credit to the excellent production team. You know who you are...look behind you for applause.
Oh, there is one other star who milks the story for all it's worth...
Daisy the Cow.
I was feeling sad when she was sold for a bag of beans. Pull the udder one, I hear you say.
There's also a silly but enjoyable ghostie sequence.
This is a wonderful fairy tale of mayhem and fun - a real collective success story for every single person involved.
When you hear the kids boo, laugh and clap you know that its done the job to perfection.
Globe Verdict: Terrifically traditional. 9/10
The show runs until January 5 and tickets from the box office at or 0151 666 0000.