Posts

Showing posts with the label pantomime

Featured Post

Eternal guilt: Dorian The Musical @SWKplay

Image
Dorian is a new musical that updates Oscar Wilde’s gothic novel from the uptight Victorian era to an undetermined period of gender fluidity and glam rock. On paper, musicalising the Picture of Dorian Gray to a period of glam rock, social media, and cheap shoes seems like a good idea. After all, Oscar Wilde’s gothic story is very adaptable. It has been the source of countless adaptations for the stage, television or movies. I was half expecting a trashy Dorian, similar to the early 1980s telemovie that shifted Dorian’s gender to a woman. This version falls into a so bad it’s good category with Anthony Perkins in a lead role, who as he ages under makeup starts to look like Andy Warhol.  And while it’s great to see a new show, a strong cast can’t compensate for such an earnest production with underpowered songs. There’s no sense of fun, and some curious staging and costume choices  -mismatched dresses, crocodile boots and furry suits - serve as a distraction. It’s currently playing at th

Panto at the sofa: The Legend of Moby Dick Whittington @wesleepingtrees

Image
If you’re missing live theatre and missing live panto, Sleeping Trees have come up with an ingenious way to bring the spirit of panto season to your living room or your makeshift office (if you’re not casting it on television). The Legend of Moby Dick Whittington isn’t a show for couch potatoes either as you’ll find yourself throwing things at your telly or making a ship out of a sofa. And my household agreed that at fifty minutes long it has more laughs than series four of the Crown.  The premise is that Dick Whittington having defeated King Rat, is Mayor of London. And during his first Christmas Santa is eaten by a large white wale. And so with the help of Dr Arab, a marine biologist they find the Whale, and get out Santa and save Christmas. Sleeping Trees have a history of turning traditional pantomimes on their head. Previous shows included Cinderella and the Beanstalk and Scrooge and the Seven Dwarves . Now with The Legend of Moby Dick Whittington, they can use the magic of reco

Limp Christmas: Pinocchio No Strings Attached @abovethestag

Image
No Christmas is complete nowadays without an adults-only pantomime. These shows don't have to worry about innuendo, they aim right for the crotch. So it’s no surprise that in Pinocchio No Strings Attached at Above The Stag, the young boy has a different growth to deal with when he tells a lie. But despite an amusing premise and a cast that seems eager to please, the piece is overlong and a bit limp. Set in the fictional Italian port side town called, Placenta, Toymaker Gepetta and her lesbian niece are on the run from the law. Gepetta seeking a man in her life inadvertently calls on the local lesbian fairy Fatima who brings her toy... boy to life. Meanwhile, there’s a wealthy evil landlord, Figaro who wants a piece of the action, a cat with a severe fur ball problem and a footballer thinking of coming out of the closet. For a pantomime, it’s surprisingly faithful to many elements of the Pinocchio story. Albeit with gay, lesbian and pantomime dame flavours. But with many pos

Space travel’s a drag: Escape From Planet Trash @ThePleasance

Image
The Pleasance Theatre is transformed into a dump with Sink The Pink’s Escape From Planet Trash. A high-concept, camp yet environmentally friendly take on the traditional pantomime. It’s environmentally friendly as jokes were either recycled or used sparingly. But it’s hard not to like a show that puts drag queens in space in search of trash. Set a few decades into the future, a queer space exploration team go in search of some discarded materials on Planet Trash that they believe will help their mission. At least I think that’s what was the point. The plot wasn’t always easy to follow due to poor sound quality. But while on Plant Trash they stumble upon Ginger Johnson and her son (Davina Cumming), the last remaining humans on the doomed planet. And the doomed world turns out to be the former planet Earth which is now floating about in an interplanetary graveyard. Meanwhile, there is some sort of evil force lurking around as it turns out the Christmas is coming. While

Something cuddly and fluffy for Christmas: Buttons @KingsHeadThtr

Image
It’s hard not to like a show where the central character is a man in a giant bear suit. And with great performances, gorgeous costumes and high production values, Buttons is fun and entertaining. This is Charles Court Opera’s self-described “boutique panto” and it’s currently playing at the Kings Head Theatre . The show’s an eccentric yet panto-style reworking of the Cinderella story. Buttons centres around Cinderella’s teddy bear, Buttons. He’s is in love with Cinderella but as he’s a teddy bear it‘s all very platonic cuddly love. Until a fairy godfather visits Buttons and turns him into a man and things get interesting. And a little bit weird. Meanwhile and evil Prince Charming is persuing Cinderella. He’s been knocking off various fictional characters to say young and charming and sees Cinderella as his next victim. And Cinderella’s mother is trying to pull a policeman who is investigating the death of various fairy tale characters. Created by Charles Court Opera’s artistic direc

Small yet perfectly formed: King Tut A Pyramid Panto @KingsHeadThtr

Image
Christmas is coming and so that means that pantomime season is in full swing. Charles Court Opera is back at the Kings Head Theatre with their off-kilter take on the panto genre with King Tut, A Pyramid Panto. Pared back so it’s called a “boutique panto” this one is small but perfectly formed with cheap laughs, a weird plot and some fine singing. Set in the Valley of the Kings, a small troupe of explorers are about to open up King Tut’s tomb only to find themselves whisked back in time to when King Tut ruled with his pal... Who just happens to be a talking Camel.

Some old goose: Mother Goose @wiltonmusichall

Image
A terrific cast, a fun story and the fabulous atmosphere of Wiltons Music Hall make Mother Goose a panto not to miss this season. Well, if you like that sort of thing... Roy Hudd writes and stars as the Pantomime Dame Mother Goose. She is an old woman who befriends a rather large and lonely goose. In return the goose gives her riches beyond her wildest dreams. Naturally being a poor old woman of meagre means it goes to her head. She sells her soul and her goose and ends up looking as it she should be in The Only Way Is Essex. It is an odd story for a pantomime, but it's clear that Hudd and his wife, director Debbie Flitcroft, know the essence of good panto. There is a battle between good and evil, spectacular costumes, audience participation. Not to mention a mix of songs and some pretty hoary jokes and ad-libs.

Meanwhile in Battersia: Scrooge and the Seven Dwarves @theatre503

Image
There is a scene in the early part of Scrooge and The Seven Dwarves at Theatre 503 where Santa appears and asks the children in the audience what they want for Christmas. "A butler" replies one. You know you're in Battersea with responses like that. But this isn't just a panto that you get your nanny to take the children to while shopping on Kings Road. The Sleeping Trees have again fused fairy tale and Christmas stories to create an anarchic panto tale about Christmas. With lashings of silliness to boot it may not be a traditional panto, but it is still a lot of fun.

Puss and Dick under the influence: Kitten in Heels @LostTheatre

Image
Kitten in Heels, playing at the Lost Theatre , takes the Dick Whittington pantomime and adds lashings of filth and smut. It's a naughty night out where the King Rat bears an unusual resemblance to Theresa May, and Dick's love interests is more interested in buying lemons. But to really appreciate this show you need to be imbued with plenty of Christmas cheer. There is a bar both inside the theatre and outside of it to assist, which may help overlook the slow pacing and the amateurish production. Plenty of audience members were making the most of the bars, but the effect was that they were making their own entertainment.

Three men and a panto: Cinderella and the Beanstalk @Theatre503 @wesleepingtrees

Image
If there is one way  to write a pantomime , Cinderella and The Beanstalk by Sleeping Trees at Theatre 503 tears up any rulebook.   It is a crazy little show full of as many pantomime or nursery rhyme characters. The end result is a frenzied and funny take on the pantomime and Christmas traditions. The premise of the show is that James, Joshua and George have written a script, booked a venue and hired one lonely musician (in the form of  Mark Newnham ). But they have forgotten one small thing. Hiring any actors. After checking that it is alright with the audience (who are we to say no?), they decide that they are going to have to perform all the roles themselves.

Slick and oiled: Cinderella @NewWimbTheatre

Image
It is panto season, and nowhere has slicker productions than the New Wimbledon Theatre . This year, with Linda Grey as the fairy godmother in Cinderella the show has appeal for little kids and bigger kids. Bigger older kids. Ones who stayed in when Dallas was on television (well back then there probably wasn't much else to do). Cinderella now is set against the backdrop of her fathers struggling oil business and thanks her ugly stepsisters spending all his money, they are flat broke. Cue the need for a special Fairy Godmother - with a penchant for a hip flask - to come to the rescue and save the business and get Cinderella to meet her prince charming. While there is a star-studded cast, what also makes the show a treat are the charismatic performances by Liam Doyle as Prince Charming and Amy Lennox as Cinderella. They sing, dance hold their own with all the insanity (and occasional scene chewing) around them.

Panto variations on a beanstalk: Jack & The Beanstalk

Image
Jack & The Beanstalk currently playing at the Theatre Royal Stratford East is a fun off-beat panto that puts a bit of a modern twist on the story of young Jack, a boy who sells the family cow for a bunch of beans. Theatre Royal Stratford pantos tend to be offbeat with crazy ideas and original music. Some of these were confusing enough for me to be flipping through the programme to see if there was any background information on the traditional tale. But it was hard not to like the introduction of the "spider organ" character when he appeared towards the finale and wanted to fight Jack with his eight legs, musical instrument and enormous sac. It could have been the effects of the fine wine consumed at interval, but it felt like an amusing moment. While most pantomime productions are a mix of colourful costumes, elaborate sets and a selection of pop hits, the bar is set a little higher here as the production has original music written by Wayne Nunes and Perry Melius. Th

Panto season again: Aladdin @NewWimbTheatre

Image
It is panto season again and the first pantomime, Aladdin at the New Wimbledon theatre was the same production I saw last year in Richmond . It still looks great with some incredible costumes and set pieces and makes for a great (if a tad overlong) family night out. I thought last year's production needed songs from this century and better jokes. Well this time around the songs this are more recent (such as Daft Punk's ear worm Get Lucky) and the street dance troupe Flawless , as the Peking Police Force adds some variety to the proceedings. With Matthew Kelly's very amusing turn as the pantomime dame Widow Twanky, comedian Jo Brand and some genuine west end stars with Oliver Thornton and David Bedella it is like a chocolate box of random assorted entertainment, there is bound to be something to please everyone.

Last lingering look at panto 2012: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Wimbledon

New Wimbledon Theatre still offers one of the best pantomime productions with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, with Priscilla Presley as the wicked queen, and a star turn by Jarred Christmas as her henchman. There is no pantomime dame in this show, but there are seven dwarfs headed up by Warwick Davis. It is a good balance of cheap laughs, songs, elaborate costumes and camp dance routines. It is a shame that Priscilla has to wear horns throughout the show as they cover her face and don't make it easy for her too look evil... But then again the show is a sensible two hours and ten minutes so it is a bit hard to get too bothered by this sort of thing as things move along so briskly there is no time for even turning to the programme and getting out the crayons to do a spot of colouring in...  One Direction's "What Makes You Beautiful" continues to be a popular music selection choice in panto... Here's hoping next year's shows license a few more boy bands

Richmond Panto: Aladdin

Image
Some fun costumes, and a great performance by Tim Vine (pictured far left) as Wishy Washy keep Aladdin at the Richmond Theatre as a sensible evening out for families (or very big kids) who don't mind a mild case of panto over Christmas. This version of the Aladdin follows a fairly traditional storyline. Aladdin works in his mothers laundry, meets a princess and after stumbling across the lamp with a genie, is granted riches that allows him to marry her. Well he would have married her if that evil Abanazar didn't get in the way. The loose plot is an opportunity to show off some great costumes, sing a few songs and tell a few gags. A few more filthier jokes for older members of the audience (timed to sail over the heads of the younger ones), and a few more modern tunes would have made the show better. Of course for the younger members of the audience, who were likely to be experiencing their first time at the theatre this did not matter so much. They were hooked on the drama an

Lookout behind you: Panto season

Image
Christmas also means that Panto season is coming and aside from the usual blockbusters in the West End or the likes of slightly edgier Jack and the Beanstalk at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, they are designed to lure families in with a mix of childrens comedy and dirty innuendo for the adult members of the audience. Or in the case of Dame Edna's foray into Dick Whittington last season, it was an opportunity graft Edna's material onto a panto format for a new unsuspecting audience... Others are taking this to another level, with less innuendo and just filth and good ol' vulgarity. There is Snow White and the Seven Poofs that has its run at the Green Carnation in Soho from early December... Subtitled, "The Climax" it looks like it leaves little to the imagination... With pop numbers and a show billed not for children (or for the faint hearted), it will be fascinating to see what they (ahem) come up with... The Drama Queens Drag Theatre Company is also

Panto: Dick Whittington

Image
It's the tail-end of panto season. School is back, Christmas and New Year have come and gone and the holidays are over. But fortunately the New Wimbledon Theatre's Dick Whittington is a welcome hanger on from the period. Its funny, sharp and varied enough to keep people of all ages entertained. There's even a 3D film segment in the second half to scare the children. But top billing for this show is Dame Edna as the Spirit of London fairy helps Dick (and the show) along. The show gives and opportunity for Dame Edna to fly through the audience, riff on old routines and muse about the genre of the pantomime. It is hilarious stuff. The jokes about empty seats being the result of subscribers to the theatre from the posh parts of Wimbledon, who have since died, are comedy gold... Of course when Dame Edna isn't around there is the good looking Sam Attwater as the hero and Anna Williamson as Alice along with a host of supporting characters that work so hard it is exhaus