Tag Archive: pantomime


First show of the year and what better way to start than a panto. Now I’m a huge fan of Birmingham Youth Theatre, especially after last summers’ brilliant Disco Inferno. Therefore, I had no hesitation in attending Jack and the Beanstalk at The Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham.

Yes, we all know the basic plot of Jack and the Beanstalk, so I won’t bore you with the details. However, each production needs an original take and Director, Joe Logan delivered that with his own script. As a writer of pantos myself, I admired magic moments on the night that I wish I’d thought of in mine. The character of Alexa was a touch of genius; the way she slipped into the Amazon Information Device when asked a question. And kudos to Ruby Blount for a superb performance, especially in the opening barrage of facts which must have been extremely hard to learn.

As our hero, Jack, Charlie Bland was in fine form and excelled equally with Blount, duetting in Human Nature. And in Jack’s sibling (Silly Billy), Megan Allsop equally delivered the laughs and performed well during Dance Monkey.

Of course, a panto needs a Dame (which I believe needs to be convincing as a female and played with respect). I’m happy to say Harrison Doherty did just that with a gorgeous but funny Dame Dolly. Likewise, there is room for a fairy and Maddison Clarke’s glorious Fairy Hiccup was a booze-fuelled character with unfortunate contractions of the diaphragm. It worked well. And portrayed equally as lackadaisical was Dylan O’Connor’s King Snoozy who teamed up with Dame Dolly for a wonderful Take a Chance on Me.

And we come to the baddies. As I say, I like pantos which differ from the norm and the Princess, who traditionally ends up with the hero, was this time the villain of the piece. Lily-Mae Nicholls was wonderfully evil as Princess Jill. A nice twist and Material Girl entertained the audience well. Alongside Jill in the evil stakes was Rhys Bishop as Baron Stuck Up Johnson, getting boos in the right places and leading an ensemble well with an extremely modified version of Heathers, Candy Store, renamed Behind the Door.

I’m not sure if you should call Tik (Josh Mills) and Tok (Lola Harper) villains, more tools of the Baron and Princess. These two were excellent comic stooges and performed a great slapstick routine in the kitchen. It was a result of these shenanigans that we had one of the moments of the night with the Sausage Roll Medley. Hilarious, although verging on a heinous crime to rock fans with I Love Rock and Roll Sausage Rolls, We Built This City on Rock and Roll Sausage Rolls and Don’t Stop Believing – “Just a sausage roll.” Awesome. And we even had a cameo voiceover from Birmingham Hippodrome panto legend and Youth Theatre patron, Matt Slack as the voice of the giant.

My favourite principal character, however (and getting a huge round of applause in the bows), was Goldie Harper, a singing, out of tune harp, played by one of the youngest talents in Marni Carroll. She had the audience howling with off-key renditions including Lonely, Let it Go and 5000 Green Bottles.

Other numbers of note, overseen by Musical Director, Chris Corcoran, included We Got the Beat, Can’t Stop the Feeling, the haunting Into the Unknown and a humorous costumed performance of Talk to the Animals.

Writer, Joe Logan, also directed and oversaw choreography including an excellent dance troupe consisting of Bethany Gilbert, Olivia Jefferson, Anna Simpson, Ellie Cosgrove, Beatrice Roberts, Emily Denigan, Carter Evans and Luke Griffiths. Assisting Logan in direction was Emily Ewins and you get the feeling of a team effort with the cheers and elation behind the curtain at the end, the results of those endeavours.

Heck, I’ve overrun. By at least 100 words. But that’s what Birmingham Youth Theatre do to you. Give you lots to rave about. And they’re back at The Old Rep Theatre (June 30 to July 2 2022) with High School Musical. I cannot recommend them enough.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

Due to a ridiculous schedule with my own production and other commitments these past few months, I’m way behind on publishing reviews, so sorry about that.

*****

It was a last-minute decision to see Robin Hood and his Band of Merry Men, but I’m glad I did. Set in an intimate venue with about 50 in attendance, you were right amongst the action. I often say rather than watch a performance, I like to experience and be part of one, and Robin Hood certainly did that for me.

As well as being in a small venue, Robin Hood only had a cast of six, but such was the quality of the script by Oliver Hume, it made no difference to the enjoyment. Full of jokes, new and old (You have to have them in panto), the script also paid homage to classic sketches of the past, my favourite being, the vessel with the pestle/chalice with the palace routine made famous by Danny Kaye in 1955’s The Court Jester.

Robin Hood was courtesy of Aunty Jen Productions, whose founder, Jennifer Rigby, also played Lidl Jen. The butt of the jokes, Jen’s character was a typical Audiences’ Best Friend and held the show solo on occasions. A job well done.

Playing Robin and Marian we had Annaliese Morgan and Nicolette Morgan, respectively. Both had great singing voices, excellent stage presence, and had those watching warm to them throughout.

There is nothing like a dame, and Mark Jeffries was superb as Nurse Juicy Lucy, having the audience eat out of her hand, and eating any participant for breakfast, if they dared to have a go back. I have views on pantomime dames and loved how Jeffries played Lucy with respect. Some actors use the Dame for cheap laughs at the man in a dress, but Lucy was gorgeous, darling. The character was who you saw on stage.

The baddie in The Sheriff of Nottingham was bad indeed, and I mean that as a huge compliment. Neville Cann had the darkness of villainy, mixed with essential comic moments at the right times. Plus, a wonderful, sinister laugh.

Rounding off our six was wandering minstrel, Alan-a-Dale, performed superbly by Danny Teitge. Opening a show is a huge responsibility and Danny rose to this task, nailing it while setting the scene for more to come. And what a voice!

The sign of a good production is how quick time flies, and Robin Hood flew like an arrow. A thoroughly enjoyable evening from a company whose future productions I highly recommend. Therefore, when at two hours’ notice you have a thought to check if there is anything on that is local, you may find a gem like Aunty Jen.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

You are cordially invited to the Palace Ball in honour of Prince Charming (who has been ordered to find a wife by The King). Dressing up–optional. We want you to have the time of your life. Therefore, let the magic commence.

It’s pantomime time and Aldridge Musical Comedy Society (AMCS) are staging Cinderella at The Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock. AMCS have a reputation for great shows and Cinderella is no exception.

Cinderella lives at Hardup Hall with her sister Bonnie, and three attractive, but not nice stepsisters named, Chardonnay. Spumante and Prosecco. Also at the Hall are the cook and part-time witch, Madame Lidl, plus Buttons, who tries to hold everything together.

Prince Charming, along with his assistant Dandini, searches for the girl he danced with at the Ball, but who vanished leaving nothing but a shoe. To complicate matters, the land is in a crime wave. Not only are the villains Deichmann and Brantano about, but also the notorious Ninja Cat, who keeps beating them to the spoils.

Will Cinderella have her happy ending? Does the prince find his bride? And how can a size 5 shoe fit only one person? With outstanding songs and laughter, the truth will out.

21 to 23 October 2021 (1930) plus Saturday Matinee (1430).

To welcome you back to live theatre, AMCS are offering Cinderella at vastly discounted prices, an unbeatable offer for this classic tale audiences have enjoyed for years.

£10 Adults & £7 Under 16s

Tickets are available from the Box Office on 01543 578762 or online at https://boxoffice.wlct.org/event_description.aspx?eventid=1051

Cinderella is my latest work, combining once again my love of musical theatre and writing. It’s been a long hard road for theatre, and we would love to see audiences return. Plus, it hasn’t been easy rehearsing, with full removal of restrictions yet to happen. So, socially distanced groups of six it has been, then taking to the outdoors to learn the dances. Well, the show must go on.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

Cinderella is the latest pantomime by Author & Theatre Reviewer, Antony N Britt, with plans for more to come.

One of Antony N Britt’s aims is to remove stereotypes. Therefore, expect strong female characters who rescue helpless Princes. Also, no ugly sisters, just beautiful ones with dark personalities. And Dames these days should be more attractive drag instead of hairy men in dresses. Written for 21st century audiences, these scripts still contain, though, many traditional pantomime elements families have enjoyed for years.

Cinderella – The Pantomime: Script Now Available to Hire

The Story

Cinderella lives at Hardup Hall with her father (The Baron), sister (Bonnie) and three attractive, but not nice stepsisters (Chardonnay, Spumante and Prosecco). The stepsisters arrived with their mother (Madame Waitrose) who married the Baron. Also at the hall is Buttons, son of the live-in-cook (and part-time witch, Madame Lidl), plus numerous Kitchen Kids who appear by magic, notably when Lidl waves her wand.

Prince Charming is sent by the King to find a bride and along with companion, Dandini, visits the town of Hardup. All the women fall for the prince, much to the dismay of Buttons who loves Cinderella. If only he would declare it, though, for Cinderella secretly loves him in return.

To complicate matters, Hardup Town is in the middle of a crime wave. Not only are the villains, Deichmann and Brantano about, but so too the notorious Ninja Cat who keeps beating them to the spoils.

Will Cinderella get to the ball? Does the prince find his bride? And how can a size 5 shoe possibly fit only one person?

The truth will out.

Cinderella – The Pantomime: Script Now Available to Hire

Hire Fees, based on proposed theatre capacity:

Up to 150 seats £40 per performance.

151 to 300 seats £50 per performance.

301 to 500 seats £60 per performance.

Over 500 seats Please ask for quote per performance.

Video Licence and Editable Script included in above prices.

For further details and to hire Cinderella, you can use either the contact function or direct at antonynbritt@gmail.com

Also Available for Hire: Sleeping Beauty.

Coming 2021 – Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

Sleeping Beauty is the first pantomime by Author & Theatre Reviewer, Antony N Britt, with plans for more to come.

One of Antony N Britt’s aims is to remove stereotypes. Therefore, expect strong female characters who rescue helpless Princes. Also, no ugly sisters, just beautiful ones with dark personalities. And Dames these days should be more attractive drag instead of hairy men in dresses. Written for 21st century audiences and already performed successfully, Sleeping Beauty also contains many traditional pantomime elements audiences have enjoyed for years. Plus, with a script containing 65-70 minutes of dialogue, this leaves ample time for similar in songs for the ultimate musical theatre experience.

The Story

Welcome to the kingdom of Edsheeran, a land of magic, song and … chicken drumsticks! Well, not everything is straightforward, as King Stefan discovers when the evil witch, Maleficent places a curse on the young Princess Aurora.

Therefore, faced with the possibility of falling into a never-ending deep sleep, the princess is taken away to live in secret under the new name, Rose, by three, ahem, trustworthy witches.

Twelve years pass and it’s time for Rose to return home for her wedding to Prince Phillip, with all the grace and decorum of a princess. Okay … again, some things simply don’t go to plan. You see, Rose would rather dress like a boy, stealing from orchards while planning to mine diamonds in the Ariana Grande Mountains. Perhaps her friends, Nova and Nebula, can talk some sense into her. Then again …

Meanwhile, Maleficent has waited patiently and sends her servant to enlist help in making sure the curse is fulfilled.

Does Prince Phillip even want to marry the girl? And will he save the day? Only if Rose can rescue him first. And everyone else. Can Flora keep her two fellow witches under control? Will Fauna find a man? And does Merryweather ever stop eating? And just who is that bird thing which keeps flying around?

All will be revealed …

Script Hire Fees, based on theatre capacity:

Up to 150 seats £40 per performance

151 to 300 seats £50 per performance

301 to 500 seats £60 per performance

Over 500 seats Please ask for quote.

Video Licence and Editable Script included in above prices.

To hire Sleeping Beauty, you can use the contact function at the top of this page or direct at antonynbritt@gmail.com

Photos from the Aldridge Musical Comedy Society 2018 production of Sleeping Beauty.

Also Available for hire – Cinderella

The first thing to note is the formerly named, Coleshill Operatic Society, are now Coleshill on Stage. I like that. We all need to evolve, and musical theatre is no different. Still, names change, but I am happy to say the quality remains with Jack and the Beanstalk exceeding enjoyment of 2019’s Cinderella.

Full of life from an exuberant opening of Pharrell Williams’ Happy to the finale of We Go Together, the cast looked to be having as good a time as the audience. And there was the clincher. Those in the seats loved every minute and showed appreciation likewise.

I’m not going to bore with the plot; it’s Jack and the Beanstalk, for heaven’s sake. However, I did wonder how they were going to represent a giant with an amateur theatre budget. A simple unseen, booming voice of Brian Blessed proportions was the answer, vocals supplied by Adam Richardson. Did the job perfect.

In the lead role of Jack, we had a traditional principal boy in Molly Bennett. This is a part Molly carried of to perfection, excelling particularly in Evermore. Then, combining well with the equally outstanding Hannah Trowman (Princess Charlotte), was a lovely rendition of Rule the World.

However, if it’s tradition you want, there is nothing more pantomime than the dame. Therefore, it was great to see Lloyd Cast offering a more Edna Turnblad female than the rapidly outdating hairy-chested, graveled voice dame. The character of Dotty Dimple worked well, especially during Man, I Feel Like a Woman.

But panto needs a huge helping of comic relief and there was much on offer with the character of Simple Simon, played in great fashion by Kelvin McArdle. It’s a part of musical theatre I love myself, to engage and interact with the audience. And no mean feat to pull it off, either. This was no more evident than during the audience participation of Dotty Dimple Had a Farm. Great for kids and adults. Not that the adults would admit it, though.

In addition to a giant, Jack also contended with two seriously good baddies in Piccalilli (Natalie Bracher) and Rancid (Chris Britt). Both were superb in their acting, making their characters totally believable. And speaking of good character acting, I was equally impressed by Lucia Owen-Small who worked well with her partner Ray Rogers as the incompetent duo, Snatchet and Scarper.

Completing a fine principal cast we had John Kerr (King Crumble), Joyce Eyre (Queen Crumble), Pauline Peach (Fairy Sugardust) and Grace Lambert (Humphrey). Finally, a pantomime cow doing the rounds in the combined form of Claire Willson and Rachel Evans. I wonder which was the butt of the jokes …

Great musical numbers for me were Wake Up Boo, Monster Mash, If I Didn’t Have You and Celebration. My favourite, though, for personal reasons was Walking on Sunshine, a song I chose to end my self-penned show, Sleeping Beauty in 2018. Nostalgic moments indeed.

The director of Jack and the Beanstalk was Tom Willson with excellent musical direction and choreography from Chris Corcoran and Rachel Evans, respectively. All on the production team deserve credit because the whole cast lived their parts. It’s a sign of a job well done when you feel you know these characters, and that was the case for me. It was nice as well to see so many younger members on stage. They are the future of musical theatre and deserve inclusion.

Therefore, another great night out in the hands of Coleshill on Stage. Next production is the iconic Oliver. I shall be there.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

I’m always excited to encounter new talent and in Cinderella, Coleshill Operatic Society certainly delivered the goods.

Cinderella – Coleshill Town Hall – February 1 2019

This pantomime had all the ingredients one would expect and more. From the obligatory “It’s behind you,” to doses of “Oh no it isn’t,” we also saw tricycle riding dames and even a pantomime horse (Something I’ve not seen for a few years). I did laugh, though, during the bows when one child shouted out “Where’s the horse?” Come on, give the cast their moment.

The show had a bright opening with a number from Hairspray, renamed Good Morning Balti-More. This set the tone for an evening of high entertainment which didn’t disappoint. The only downside I found was the script, and I know it’s the script because I’ve experienced this version before and made similar comments in my review back then. Some scenes were over wordy with not enough jokes. This meant the cast carrying the show through talent and character which I am glad to say they did in abundance.

Two stand-out roles for me were our romantic leads in Lucia Owen-Small (Cinderella) and Molly Bennett (Prince Charming). Both portrayed their parts in superb fashion and excelled in the duet, Love at First Sight. Supporting well, though, was Jack Deakin playing a wonderfully camp Dandini and Joyce Eyre as our Fairy Godmother. Then, holding everything together, we had the reliable and lovestruck Buttons (Tom Willson). Now, I always feel sorry for Buttons as everyone really wants him to win Cinderella’s hand, but we know he never will. This is something that needs addressing (laughs wickedly) one day by a brave writer. You see, I always find it weird that Charming states Cinders is the most beautiful girl in the world, yet he can’t recall what she looks like without trying on a shoe.

Comic relief came from two sides. First, we had our Ugly Sisters in Chardonnay (Kelvin McArdle) and Shiraz (Lloyd Cast). Now, personally, I am not a fan of the traditional masculine dame, feeling the role has had its day, however, these two did what it said on the tin and thoroughly entertained the audience throughout. And we had a second helping of pantomime stooges in Mr Snitch (Pete Slater) and Mr Snatch (Jeff Martin), both going about their characters’ incompetence in a very Chuckle Brothers’ style. Rounding off our principals was a dastardly evil Lady Devilla (Natalie Broacher), the weak-willed Baron Hard-Up (John Kerr) and Major Domo (Robert Dutton). Oh, and I can’t forget the two halves of Bright Eyes in Clare Willson and Rachel Evans.

So many more good tunes during the show, among them: I’m a Believer, You’ve Got a Friend in Me and How Can I Live Without Your Love. One delight for me, though (and a complete shock), was the inclusion of What Do I Do Now? from A Slice of Saturday Night. Reason for this, it was the most obscure number used in my own Sleeping Beauty pantomime last year and I’m amazed anybody else had heard of it (Nobody in my company had). Brought tears to my eyes hearing it. And preceding the bows, a little audience participation with the jolly (but terribly irritating) I Like the Flowers, a song guaranteed to stay in your head for days. Well … it’s for the kids, isn’t it.

Direction for Cinderella came courtesy of Tim Willson with choreography by Rachel Evans. Then, leading a good three-piece band on top of musical direction was Tim Harding.

Coleshill seems a friendly society and everyone on stage looked to have enjoyed performing the show as much as those in the audience did watching it. My first opportunity to witness this society but not my last.

Cinderella – Coleshill Town Hall – February 1 2019

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

It’s pantomime time and Aldridge Musical Comedy Society (AMCS) are staging Sleeping Beauty at Great Wyrley. AMCS have a reputation for great shows and Sleeping Beauty is no exception. Fantastic voices and dance, plus an original script by local writer Antony N Britt (Yes … me). Being an author and loving amateur dramatics, it was only a matter of time before the two worlds collided. And this is it!

Sleeping Beauty - The Pantomime  (Coming to Great Wyrley – 22 to 24 November 2018)

The show is full of great numbers which will have you clapping and tapping your feet until the end. Songs include: Tragedy, Colour My World, These Boots Are Made for Walking, Dear Future Husband, Electricity, Walking on Sunshine, Once Upon a Dream, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Hot Stuff, Electricity and … the list goes on.

AMCS have produced exceptional pantomimes in the past and I’m overjoyed at the opportunity to continue that tradition. Writing Sleeping Beauty took five months. One to concoct a matter of fact plot, then four more to complete the script. It’s a mammoth workload, also being in the show, but the temptation was too hard to resist. And what a joy to be not only directing but appearing alongside my fellow members whom I’m proud of every single one.

Assisting me with direction is Julie Lamb while I’m also thankful to be working alongside the exceptional Sarah Beckett (Choreography) and Mark Bayliss (Musical Direction)

The show is at Great Wyrley High School Theatre from 22 to 24 November (1930 evenings with an additional 1420 matinee on Saturday 24 November).

Tickets are available by phoning 0798446400. Alternatively, you can go online to Stagestubs at this link.

Prices are £13/Adult, £10/Concessions and £7/Under 16s. We also offer a family ticket (2 adults/2 children) for £35.

Great entertainment for all the family.

 Sleeping Beauty - The Pantomime  (Coming to Great Wyrley – 22 to 24 November 2018)

Cheers.

 

Antony N Britt

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