Gone are the days when you would attend a pantomime expecting to see tired jokes, tacky scenery and ongoing dropped lines. Pantomime has reached a golden age of modernization, bringing with it a real show which has something for everyone. This year Highcliffe Charity Players have produced a colourful spectacle, with a witty script, talented cast and a number of gags to make even the most serious person chuckle.
Whilst no pantomime can fully rely on their script to provide all of the expected humour, it certainly helps! Written by Stephen Hutt and Charles Michael Duke, the script boasts a mix of eye-roll worthy quips, modern jokes and, of course, a hearty dose of slap-stick to keep the kids (and most of the adults) in stitches throughout. On occasion pantos can be written in such a way that certain aspects of the story don’t fit into the fairytale being told. It was very refreshing, therefore, to see a show which, in the main, makes complete sense!
Stuart Darling, the Musical Director, has clearly worked incredibly hard with both ensemble and soloists to create a wonderful sound during the musical numbers. The songs were sung with great enthusiasm and energy, although it was a challenge occasionally to hear the alto lines over the strength of the sopranos on stage. The balance between the sound of the cast and the band was nearly perfect, although the band did overtake Jill and the chorus in ‘Fabulous, Baby!’ and it was quite hard to hear both in that particular number.
Tilly Ingle has choreographed this show spectacularly. The dancing was absolutely outstanding and it was fantastic to watch a group with such a high level of dance ability. Whilst there was the occasional missed step, or wrong move, it really didn’t matter because the entire cast looked like they were having the best time. There was a very high level of energy and enthusiasm in all of the dances.
Speaking of energy, Chloe-Louisa Hughes was a tour de force in the role of Silly Sally. She played the role perfectly, appealing to both the adults and the children. She gave 110% at all times and was a genuine pleasure to watch.
Amber Sutton narrated the show well in the role of Fairy Harriet Vert, who was desperate to gain her wings, showing great versatility with a number of different accents utilized throughout the show. In the classic dame role, Stuart Tizzard was very funny, dealing with costume mishaps with the natural comedy required to keep the audience rooting for you. He had some cracking lines, many of which would (thankfully) go over the children’s heads.
In the villain role, Pete Whittaker played the nasty, greedy squire to a very boo-worthy level – and he was booed! He, along with his faithful duo Cloak and Swagger, were very funny to watch.
Sophie Kerslake in the role of the leading lady Jill played up to the role of strong independent woman well, and it was nice to see a show where the leading lady didn’t need to be saved by the male lead! She and Stanley Smith, in the title role of Jack, were a well-matched pair and worked really well together. Jack also gave high levels of enthusiasm to his performance.
It would also be churlish to not mention Daisy the cow who was a lovely addition to the cast!
It is not too late to get your tickets for this fabulous show; you won’t regret it!
Runs until Saturday 25 January (see www.regentcentre.co.uk for details)