Mother Goose - Shotley Drama Group
I never thought I would ever hear the Strawbs' Part of the Union in a panto. This 70s hit with a political message fitted in perfectly in the version of Mother Goose, which is full of lovely little surprises.
Shotley Drama Group never do a bad panto so the bar is set high, and this year's directed by Mandy Peters' had to meet the sort of standards set by Carol Blumfield and Derek Long, two stalwart that passed away over the past year.
This cast made up of 15 enthusiastic children and nearly as many dedicated adults mixed lively music, with colourful dance numbers, groan worthy gags (yes, I chuckled at many and some I didn't even see coming).
In military style organisation the youngsters have no chance of getting bored with constant changes and chorus lies in many scenes, all made possible by an amazing array of high quality costumes, set against a backdrop of top class scenery and props - watch out for the exploding oven and pink Cadillac.
Debbie Frost as the Queen of Birdland stars in one of the most colourful scenes, while Sharon Ratcliffe as Monster of the Haunted Wood delights in the spookiest and cleverest of second half openers,
There are many lovely little cameos weaved in among the bigger picture. Mel and Jude as Hickory and Dickory bounced off each with the ease sisters can, especially when their dad is Derek Long. Their duo 'Thank you for being a Friend,' felt particularly poignant.
The mischievous Jack, played with impish devilment by Angela Arnold, displayed a cheeky sense of humour, while Jill (Michelle Merrin) tries to keep a straight face, but doesn't always manage.
Connor Sams gave his all as the ever-fussy Mother Goose and made a convincing drama queen, not least for the number of costume changes, and not so subtle makeup. But Mother Goose was not just all bluster; a strong singing voice came over and he/she added twinkle to each act.
This was even when he was tricked by Demon Discontent, played by Michael Connell who looks and sounds the part (despite being a good guy really) and was the antithesis of Fairy Fortune (Lynne Catling) who narrated with patience and style.
Bob Oliver, as Squire William added gravitas, while Jennie Hammond as the Queen of Hearts added glamour, and played the fall guy with panache, especially in a quality jam tart factory farce and Alfie Cubitt is a good little Knave of Hearts.
You can't have a panto without a love interest and Polly Flinders (Josie Tromans) and Prince Colin (Naomi Mitchell) bring a little tenderness to the mayhem surrounding them.
For all that was said and sung, it takes something special to stand out with uttering a vowel. Yet, that is exactly what the endearing Emily Tromons as Priscilla, the Goose managed to do. She was the goose that laid the golden egg, which the panto is loosely based on and you just know if Shotley Drama Group did merchandise, Priscilla would be a sell-out.
Once again Shotley Drama Group, both on-stage and behind the scenes, have produced a wonderful fun-for-all-the family panto and you just know Carol and Derek will be smiling down approvingly (although no doubt with some added direction).
* Mother Goose on today (Wednesday), doors open at 7.00pm and performances start at 7.30pm. There is a matinee performance on Saturday 23rd - doors open at 2.00pm and curtain up is 2.30pm.
There will be a bar and they will be selling refreshments including home-made cakes. Tickets cost £7.50 for adults, £6.50 for concessions and £24 for a family ticket when purchased in advance of the performance. Please add £1 to each ticket price when purchasing on the door.
Tickets available from Hollingsworth Chelmondiston (cash only) and the Rose, Shotley. Or phone Mandy 01473 787460 / 07801 591102 or Angela 01473 788277 / 07721 556490.
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