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Family Fun with a Feisty Feline

The cast of Puss in Boots. Photo by Jack Ashforth.

Puss in Boots. The Albany Theatre, Coventry, running until Sunday 14 January 2024.

Photos courtesy of Coventry College photography students Jack Ashforth, Olivia Deakin, Alisha Jamieson and Skye Eales.

Review by Alison Manning.

 Lovers of pantomime should check out Puss in Boots, currently on at The Albany Theatre in Coventry.


The possibly overly enthusiastic audience are clearly seasoned pantomime goers cheering and booing in all the right places and some extra ones as well, applauding and clapping along as the lights dim and the music starts up before the show has even begun. The cast keep them engaged as they willingly join in, shout responses and greetings, occasionally come on stage, produce Cornish accents on request and squeal at squirts of water. Children seated behind us boo and hiss at the baddy baron, even adlibbing their own "Get off again!" for extra effect. Sometimes the audience’s booing and hissing is so loud and so long that we can’t hear the actors speak.

Chris Arnold as Dame Daisy Donut and Paul Sanders as The Baron. Photo by Jack Ashforth.


The show is laced with humour as you would expect from a pantomime, with an appropriate mix of football, Coventry and toilet jokes. Other classic pantomime traits are all present and correct, including the custard pie, the haunted forest scene where the characters are picked off one by one by a white sheeted ghost, despite the audience’s vain cries of “It’s behind you!” and the interactive audience participation song, projected on to the curtain for all to read, in which children delight in joining in a chaotic cacophony of the slightly risqué repeated chorus of “Bum bum bum!”

The Spirit of the Forest. Photo by Olivia Deakin.


As you might also expect from a pantomime, the plot seemed to take second place to the jokes and larger than life characters. The story seemed to be a strange twist on the original Puss in Boots tale, with Dame Daisy Donut’s two sons having confusing dual identities, one, Billy, half pretending to be the Marquis of Carabas, whilst the other, timid Colin who is in love with the princess, is magically transformed into a swashbuckling cat to help him win her - the eponymous Puss in Boots. The trio, in unlikely partnership with the King and Queen, must work together to free Princess Clementine from the odious ogre and thwart the wicked Baron’s dastardly plans to destroy the village before it is too late.

Megan Mabilleau as Puss in Boots. Photo by Alisha Jamieson.


What it lacks in polished perfection, this show makes up for in enthusiasm and charm, with a hoard of talented local youngsters singing and dancing their hearts out in the ensemble. As the ethereal Spirits of the Forest, headed by the chief Spirit of the Forest and her impressive wings, they might well captivate their way into your hearts.

The lead roles include local actors; Megan Mabilleau as Puss in Boots and Colin, Adam Holst as Billy Donut, April Royce as the Princess, Ian Finnie and Jessica Moore as the King and Queen, Sheryl Inman as the Dogsbody, Paul Sanders as Baron, Katie Carey as the Spirit and Chris Arnold as Dame Daisy Donut.

Some of the young talented ensemble. Photo by Olivia Deakin.

This year the theatre welcomed a new Musical Director, Josh Deakin, to its panto family. Josh said, “From growing up performing on this stage as a child, it has been a great privilege and full circle moment to be the Musical Director for the Albany Theatre Panto this year and to work with so many incredibly talented performers and the amazing production team.

“Each week in rehearsals the vocals got stronger, and it has been lovely to watch the younger chorus grow in confidence each week. Every member of the company has put so much time and effort into every part of the performance and I can’t wait till show week and see it all come together. A show not to be missed and I am very proud to be a part of it.”

A panto full of colourful characters. Photo by Skye Eales.


A word of warning, the bar layout has changed since I last visited the Albany theatre, but it seemed to be struggling to cope with the packed audience, as there was still a sizeable queue of people hoping for ice creams or hot drinks as the warning bell for the end of interval rang. Hopefully this should be resolved during the run but join the queue early just in case for non-alcoholic refreshments! 


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