|Date||18th February 2023|
|Society||Nottingham West Music & Drama Society|
|Venue||New Horizon Church – Langley Mill|
|Type of Production||Pantomime|
|Director||Tom Bailey/Emma Heydon/ Siobhan Waddington- Taylor / Gillian Williams|
|Musical Director||Tom Atkins|
|Choreographer||Julie Castledine/ Emma Heydon / Jane Clark/ Ellie Knight/ Charlotte Lee|
Author: Martin Holtom
Pantomime season would never be complete without a visit to NOWMADS and this year I was treated to one of their best all-round productions with their performance of Cinderella.
I always look forward to a NOWMADS pantomime as they are one of the few Companies around that actually uses a live orchestra rather than backing tracks. This year was no exception with a fine band in great effect throughout the performance including their cast heckling/participation on this the last night. I was also particularly impressed with their balance with the performers on the very wide stage at the New Horizons Church especially as I was sitting right next to the drummer.
From the first moment to the final number this was old Skool Pantomime with a TikTok Insta twist that embraced the new without abandoning any of the core essentials that all Pantomimes should contain.
Danny de Martino and Jack Kendall were on superb form as the Ugly Sisters Kim & Chloe … (I can’t suggest a surname for fear of US lawsuit) who drove the comedy and audience engagement throughout the performance to great effect. They delivered their topical jokes with groans and laughter aplenty from the thoroughly engaged and appreciative audience.
Lis Hipkiss with her numerous 4th wall breaks was, I think, the best buttons I have seen for many a year. She knew how to engage with the audience old and young alike, and delivered a great combination of broad comedy with a west country twang coupled with occasional near the knuckle humour without going over the top. I was especially impressed with how she coped with the last night curve balls being thrown at her by her cast mates all of which she took in good part without corpsing too much.
Suzie Green was in great panto villain mode as Baroness Hardup with the quality of her delivery obvious from the Boos and Hisses coming from the audience at all the right times. Suzie was ably partnered by Ryan Burnett as the sympathetic and naïve Baron Hardup with a heart of gold crafted in Yorkshire. Ellie Knight delivered the quintessential rags to riches Cinderella. Ellie captured the hearts of the audience with a very naturalistic characterisation that was just right. You could see many of the young girls in the audience wanting to be her when she arrived at the ball which was a testament to both Ellie’s delivery and the costuming and key props that the production team had created for the show.
Charlotte Lee was a very believable Prince Charming and once again played the role true to the spirit of Great British pantomime without drifting into self-parody. Charlotte was also in great form with Hannah Chamberlain as Dandini. I always appreciate Hannah’s humour through her very expressive facial expressions and sarcastic delivery. You could see the enjoyment in her eyes at every turn of the scripted scenes, and also when she was clearly throwing "ad-libbed" last night queues to Lis and Charlotte without disrupting the story too much. Laura Collins was on great form as the Fairy Godmother as were Evelyn Skellett as Mayor of Pumpkinville and Julie Castledine as Miss Tutu who very ably supported the narrative of the show together with the talented ensemble who were full of enthusiasm in vocal work, harmony and movement throughout the performance.
Shows like this really lift the spirits and don’t happen without a significant amount of work in the rehearsal period, so congratulations to the Production Team and the choreography team for delivering such a fun, fresh and enjoyable three hours of escapism.
Sound and Lighting all added to the experience and together with the expertise of movement design and rapid unobtrusive scene changes from the backstage team made you forget you were in a very challenging performance space with its considerable width and shallow depth.
Congratulations all and I look forward to seeing you again soon.