Puss in Boots, Belgrade, Coventry, to Jan 11.
Writer, director and actor Iain Lauchlan and the Belgrade team have once again created a wonderful, sparkling, traditional panto that the whole family will love.
The show is a magical experience for all ages, and the baddie, the evil Victor Grabitt, is probably the most dastardly villain you’re ever likely to encounter in a panto. Great acting by Peter Watts – especially that terrifying laugh. Happily, our hero Puss in Boots (Joanna Thorne), stylishly outsmarts and eventually defeats him in a terrific and dramatic sword-fight set in a dungeon. That finale has the big kids gasping, and the little ones diving for cover. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one reassuring my four-year-old that it was okay, it was only someone in costume! Great effects, production team!
The scenery and costumes are amazing, as always. The choreography by Jenny Phillips is wonderful and bang up-to-date in style and attitude. The entire ensemble, bursting with talent and enthusiasm, sing and dance brilliantly. Special mention must go to Dylan Jones, Daniel Teague and Ema Astrola – and (my favourite dance) the spooky little bats in the dungeon.
There are great performances by all the cast: Aimee Louise Bevan is Fairy Flutterby, King Colin is played by David Gillbrook, and Mirian Grace Edwards is Princess Sophia. And of course, there are the stars of the show - Iain Lauchlan who plays the outrageous Dame Matilda Pudding in some wonderfully crazy costumes, and the hugely talented Craig Hollingsworth who plays her son, Simon Pudding.
The pair have once again brought their magic to the Belgrade with hilarious routines and great slapstick action. And as for their ad-libbing with the children they invite on to the stage – that is priceless. It's another brilliant panto.
For tickets go to: http://www.belgrade.co.uk/
Pictured: Craig Hollingsworth leads the ensemble in one of the great song and dance routines. Picture by Robert Day.
Incidentally, panto-goers can make donations to Making Memories, the initiative by the Belgrade and Coventry Foodbank, which is aiming to provide 600 panto tickets for disadvantaged families.