Christmas is just around the corner and that can only mean one thing……Panto! Oh no, it isn’t! Oh yes, it is!......You know how it goes. So much so that last night’s trip to the Belgrade to see Puss in Boots made it my 4th year in a row. We do love a good panto in our house. This year it's Puss in Boots, marking the 25th anniversary of Iain Lauchlin’s (creator of The Tweenies) residence at the Panto and the show’s first return to the Belgrade in nearly 30 years! This all seemed to bode well for a great night of entertainment.
Before the review itself, just a little note on visiting the Belgrade itself – my family and I love it! When asking about where we were going earlier in the evening, there were sighs of relief when they found out the venue. They find many theatres a bit too big but we always get a warm welcome from everyone at the Belgrade and it has a lovely atmosphere. Plus, it’s really easy to get to and there are plenty of places to eat nearby (i.e. for that cheeky pizza beforehand!).
So the show itself……..everything I was hoping for! Non-stop audience participation and jammed full of song and dance. A big shout out to the local kids who are the junior chorus as their enthusiasm and ability is plain for all to see.
As with all good pantos, it's a tale of good vs evil. The "evil" this time came in the shape of the evil Ogre (in the shape of many different animals) and his dastardly (but excellent) sidekick Victor Grabbit. Their plan was to take control of the recently deceased Miller’s house so they could rent it out on AirBnB! This meant evicting his widow and son – enter the panto dame (Iain Lauchlin) as Matilda the Miller’s wife and Simon (Craig Hollingsworth) as his son. This familiar pairing works so well and the jokes flow freely. The unscripted jokes, sometimes from an unnoticed slip up, are even better!
Facing eviction, the pair find a helping hand in Fairy Flutterby, who uses her magic to turn Simon’s cat into Puss in Boots, the swashbuckling hero of the story. Puss in Boots then hatches a plan to turn around the family fortunes and fulfill Simon's dream of marrying the Princess. But not if Victor Grabbit has anything to do with it!
The whole evening is really enjoyable and the kids love the slapstick humour (with enough disguised adult jokes to keep parents happy too). We were sat by a huge range of ages, both children and adults, and everyone was laughing out loud throughout.
Towards the end are the family favourites that are the hallmark of the Belgrade panto: the “he's behind you" scene (which sends the kids crazy!); the “If I weren't in Pantomine" song (which has me amazed every year at the timing of the actions); and finally the interview with kids brought up on stage at the end (the answers to which are a minefield every year for all involved, but always funny!). We left with smiles on our faces and very happy that we had made the trip again this year. Christmas is coming.......
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