Date 29th February 2020
Society St Gabriel's Amateur Operatic Society Castleton
Venue St Gabriel’s RC School
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Simon Thompson
Choreographer Jess Clegg and Anne Ingham


Author: Claire Ashworth

The cast in this production is a mix from age 5 up to adulthood, this in itself can create all sorts of problems so well done to the society for putting such a well drilled cast on the stage. There were three teams of chorus, always beautifully costumed and special care had been taken to plait colours in the children’s long hair to match the costumes - a very professional looking touch. The numbers were a mix of traditional Panto and modern, the choreography was age appropriate and sometimes challenging to the younger cast, but always completed with flair, smiles and enthusiasm. There were a few excited waves to the audience at times but it never detracted from their performance. Stand mics only we’re used and projection, diction and enunciation for the most part were good, a couple of cast members were nervous and rushed their lines a little at the beginning, but as the story unfolded, they relaxed. 

The costumes were to a high standard with plenty of colour and sparkle that is expected in a pantomime. It was a very large cast and performed in a small intimate venue, so unfortunately at times some back stage noise could be heard from little feet - it’s only an observation to address moving forwards not a big point, they were very entertaining and the audience loved them. The sets and props were good, the music was provided by a mix of both keyboard and tracks, the sound was good, the lighting sympathetic to the scenes on the stage - personally I would have liked to see a lighting dim and go more spooky in the forest ghost scene, but I do appreciate that this is performed in a school hall and not a theatre, so perhaps that was not really as easily possible , again, this is only a personal thought not a criticism.

The Ugly Sisters played by Tim Richardson and Mike Newton had their comedic timing down perfectly, they played with the double entendres and the audience like pros. They projected well and were fully committed to their characters. Their chemistry with their mother The Baroness played by Debbie West was very evident and all three were very comfortable on the stage together. Russell Noblet played the downtrodden Baron and for a newcomer to the stage ( I believe this was his first ever role) he should be proud of himself - his dialogue was clear, his pace was measured, his characterisation was strong and he made the audience feel sorry for him, I particularly enjoyed the buzzy bee comedy scene. Dandy I was played by Stephanie Riley, she delivered some great one liners and used the stage space well. The pairing of Jess Clegg as Cinderella and Georgina Sutton as Prince Charming was a lovely balance, they complimented each other well and were believable in their characterisations. Simon Thompson played Buttons and also penned and directed this pantomime, his level of energy throughout the show never waned and he was fully committed to his characterisation, his comedic timing and facial expressions were great and he interacted with the audience well. The script was strong giving all the characters a chance to shine . I particularly enjoyed the forgetful king played by Martin Tierney - he reminded me very much of Maurice Chevalier in Gigi ( showing my age there!). There are far too many cast members to mention individually, but I must mention that as I watched this production it was very evident that it was a team on stage doing what they love together. Thank you for inviting me, I look forward to seeing you all again soon.