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January 6 2019, Cinderella Trophy Reviews

The people of Minehead are extremely fortunate to have the ’people of panto’ right on their doorstep to blow away those winter blues and to ensure that their new year starts off with a bang.

It was at the Regal Theatre where Minehead Panto People were performing Alice in Wonderland. This was director Jess James’ debut and the script -provided by Limelight – contained the necessary ingredients of a good pantomime. Incorporating a neat balance of songs, variety, glitz and glam plus a few musical numbers from the shows this was certainly a well-rounded script.

I was a little unsure of your UV scene as an opening though. Lighting wasn’t quite as it should have been as we could see all of the characters. I generally like the show to begin with that ‘panto punch’ and personally felt that it seemed lacking a tad at the very beginning.

Sets, backcloths, costumes, headwear, props and imaginative lighting made this production the most colourful spectacle it was. The woodland lair was also a captivating set. On a few occasions sound was distorted and some cast went unheard. It was a pity that mic’s did not appear to be on for the Mad Hatter’s and March Hare’s number, ‘Rain on my parade.’

Acting was to a good standard by most, no prompts were required and cueing was sound although I feel it was the children who were the stars of this particular production.

Natalia Carey’s Alice was played with merit. At just eight years old you showed maturity well beyond your years. With a lot of lines to learn you projected sweetly and innocently. Congratulations Natalia. You are a celebrity! You now just need to concentrate on your veterinary exams!

I enjoyed the antics of Gracie Jackson’s Dormouse appearing from what I can only describe as a Clarice Cliff teapot. This was a small but sweet cameo part to play. Your crystal clear diction complimented your character.

Grace McLaren’s Cheshire Cat was a purrfect performance. You looked amazing hidden in that tree with terrific UV lighting and make-up. Although some of the characters in this story were only small parts, I would certainly love to have seen more of you!

Dan Ross’s Wally the Joker was an energetic performance with clear diction. You just needed to pause a moment with your punch-lines Dan, allowing your audience to have time to think about what’s coming next!

James Scott’s Dame Millicent was a likeable performance. This is your first time as Dame James although I felt you were still in your ‘linkman’ mode on occasions. By developing more side facial expressions daring us to laugh, similar to those used by the late Frankie Howerd, a lilt to the voice every so often and a few more robust movements you will then have all the ingredients of a traditional Dame. A larger than life entrance from the back of the theatre is another classic that will immediately have the audience on your side. A good effort though.

Kings and Queens can often be characters who just walk on and off stage during a story but here were two royals who certainly did not go unnoticed. I very much enjoyed the antics of Peter Thompson’s King of Hearts and your song ‘Bad Romance’ was executed extremely well! It was a great shame that your ‘beloved wife’ had to maintain such a high pitched screech throughout the entire performance. You were certainly loud and bossy Anna but some of your words were lost through the squawking, especially during Act 1. As the programme suggests I would have preferred your character to be brash. Vocal attack needed toning down a little as it was far too penetrating. Nonetheless, this was ideal royal pairing and you both had great mannerisms and energy.

I mentioned variety earlier as I believe this was the ‘key’ for your pantomime. There was a variety of fantastic props made by the talented Peter Thompson. How I could have tucked in to that trifle at the tea party! A variety of brightly appealing costumes worn well by each cast member, a variety of headwear, variety of song and dance and variety of talent.

I have no doubt that your packed audience enjoyed every moment of your pantomime for here was a troupe who certainly played their cards right this season.

Thank you Minehead Panto People for inviting me and for your friendly hospitality and interval refreshments.


Nigel Ford

Moderator SFD