Who: Written and directed by Peter Rowe. Set and costumes by Cleo Pettitt, choreography by Sundeep Saini.
Where and when: New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, to 28 Jan 2023. Livestreaming 15 Dec – 2 Jan. Tickets here.
Cast: Steve Simmonds, Luke Thornton, Lucy Wells, Jared Leathwood, Richard Costello, Hannah Baker, Will Hamilton, Natasha Lewis, Adam Langstaff, Tasha Shanade, and Elizabeth Rowe.
Basic plot: Goldilocks has to save her mother’s circus from the dastardly rivals down the road. Will she succeed, and find love at the same time?
Characters and performances: Goldilocks (smashing singing from Wells), Tommy Topper (a lively Leathwood), Belinda Big-Top (another knock-out grotesque from Simmonds), Fairy Aurora (a versatile Lewis).
Fleece-em and Flog-em (good comedy from Baker and Hamilton), Bobo the Clown (outstanding work from Thornton), Wilberforce T Whippum (a hissable Costello), and the Three Bears.
Audience interaction: Very good from the start, and throughout. Good ‘oh yes you can’ and ‘he’s behind you’ call backs.
Atmosphere: Watching at home, so I didn’t get the full experience, but we had a good time and could hear lots of laughter from the audience in the theatre.
Music: The real strength of a “rock ‘n’ roll panto, with more than twenty recognisable numbers and an accomplished set of actor-musicians.
Technical: Excellent set design from Pettitt for both competing circuses, with some fun bits to keep chatacters moving.
Cuteness factor: Puppet singers!
Regional/contemporary relevance: Partygate gets a mention, and the bears’s plight as migrants feels very current.
Final verdict: ***. A weaker story than last year’s Jack and the Beanstalk, it does shine through the sheer energy of its rocking score, which adds a joy.
Image credit: Mike Kwasniak