Tag Archive: pantomime


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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