Review of the Show
Photos link: https://photos.app.goo.gl/HbybFfa2gdoMkk2t8
QUITE a few years ago now I came across a confident and supremely talented young boy, about 12 years old, who was performing magic tricks as part of a variety show in Ferndown. He has been crossing my radar ever since in a variety of guises, but mainly as a musical director or pantomime dame, and I am never less than hugely impressed by what he does. This year he has surpassed himself – oh, the energy of youth! – and despite having only just finished a run of Cinderella down in Weymouth, playing an Ugly Sister, just days later he’s wearing frocks again as Dame Trott in this extremely enjoyable pantomime, for which he is also musical director and author. Lee Redwood, is there no end to your talents?
Playing Dame Trott’s son Simple Simon is another young man who I have been watching perform since he was tiny, and it has always been obvious that he has a very special talent. Jack Haberfield commands the stage as if born to it, and has a lovely way of interacting with the audience that belies the fact that he is still a teenager.
With the combined experience of these two it’s hardly surprising that this production, beautifully directed by Sarah Haberfield, has such a high standard, especially when it soon becomes obvious that the stage is positively crammed full of smashing performances.
A very well-known TV actress who spends almost every Christmas in panto once told me that the most important thing for the Fairy to do is to smile when she makes her first entrance. Emily-Jane Charge (Fairy Daffodil) has certainly taken that rule to heart, and her smile lights up the stage in a truly delightful performance.
Shannon Fisher, playing Jack, is another highly talented performer who easily commands the stage and has a lovely smile too, and she, as indeed do all the soloists, has a superb singing voice. Here I must mention in particular young Max Lucas, who sang Who Will Buy beautifully and with not a trace of nerves.
Among the other principal characters, Camilla Pillinger’s Princess Apricot is excellently characterised and there is a lovely performance too from Issy Campbell as her Lady-In-Waiting, Leila. Martin Pitman’s Fleshcreep, looking like something out of The Rocky Horror Show, is deliciously evil and Chris March a fearsome-looking Giant Blunderbore. The large, vivacious chorus is well-drilled and very effective too.
Whilst one or two things on opening night clearly didn’t go quite according to plan, this really is a super production, with gorgeous costumes & sets, great songs and excellent sound and lighting. There’s also a rather fetching cow, and I must be honest and say that the scene where Dame Trott is telling Daisy how much she loves her prior to selling her in order to pay the rent brought a real lump to my throat. Here I am, a grown woman, getting upset about a pretend cow. That’s the power of make-believe, I guess.