"FUNtastic (Oh Yes It Is!!!)"
by Cheryl Rowlands for remotegoat on 30/10/17

This was the Company’s first performance with this Panto prior to going on tour for Christmas and was well attended by parents and children being on a Saturday afternoon staged at Long Ashton Village Hall.

Lovely festive programmes complete with lovely photos of the cast and crew by Emily Solloway, and merchandise for sale which went down a treat with the younger members of the audience. These consisted, amongst other items, of light-up windmills and glittery “glass slipper” keyrings (of which I treated myself to a silver one), all at pocket money prices.

Lovely first number all the numbers were sung live, which was impressive, and although some coped better than others, everyone did a great job.

The Ugly Sisters, played by Steve Huggins (Ronnie) and Calum Ward (Bonnie) were fab and drew lots of laughs from an appreciative audience with their manic performance, however they may well have benefited from a pair of bloomers each, which would have softened the audience’s view at times also!

Cinderella, played by Brittany Wallis, sang beautifully throughout and her duet with Martha Holly’s Prince Charming almost had me in tears.

Sophie Slavin played Buttons. I absolutely loved her costume which was in the style of a Joker. She coped well with what was quite a difficult audience to begin with, however in time they relaxed and settled into the action, contributing with the traditional cheers and catcalls.

There was a truly gorgeous backdrop featuring two wattle and daub pubs and other “Olde Worlde” buildings. It was a lovely touch and really set the scene.

The (young) Fairy Godmother, played by regular, Lottie Elcoate, spoke in rhyme throughout and sang well.

The Evil Baroness, played by Sophie Maindonald, could have been a tad more evil, but she played her part to great effect.

Truly awful singing by the Ugly Sisters which I was unsure if this was deliberate or they really can’t sing, and their numbers always had a feel of unbridled chaos about them, but they did make me laugh – hopefully not for all the wrong reasons! There was a hilarious faux pas during one number were the choreography had become so manic and chaotic that Ronnie’s wig was accidentally knocked off by Buttons, however this just added to the comic effect and was greeted with great mirth by the audience.

An excellent rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” came towards the end of the show and I shall never look upon five toilet rolls in quite the same way again! This number really brought John Gordon’s Dandini to life and he clearly thoroughly enjoyed playing this role (or should that be roll? Five of them to be exact!).

I would have liked to have seen more of Megan-Bethany Walsingham and Rebecca Haselhurst, however they both had a strong presence on stage and Megan was the Choreographer on this production.

Audience Participation Time came with the audience being split into three groups – men, women and children. All “pshhing” at the appointed times from the safety of the auditorium with, thankfully, no-one being dragged up on stage.

Amongst the growing mayhem the cast did well to sing all the songs live and by the end, many children had left their seats and approached the stage to get a better view which was delightful.

There was a lovely touch at the end when the cast came out for a photo opportunity with audience members which the children appreciated greatly. A nice memento of an extremely brilliant first performance.

Good luck with the tour!

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