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.