|Date||10th January 2015|
|Society||Ace Theatre Group|
|Venue||Marven Centre, Sawston, Cambridge|
|Type of Production||Pantomime|
|Director||Carol Wratten assisted by Steve Williams|
|Musical Director||Valerie Caton|
Author: Sue Hartwell
Ace Theatre Group has a reputation for producing a well-rehearsed and well-performed annual pantomime and "Goldilocks" was no exception, delighting the capacity matinee first performance audience. As Director and Choreographer, Carol Wratten mainly writes and produces these productions and manages to create some delightful characters and storylines for her talented cast to bring to life.
This year's pantomime entered the land of myths and legends, as we followed the adventures of Goldilocks and her eventual triumph over evil. The story unfolds at the annual jousting tournament at Camelot castle, hosted by Sir Robert and Lady Isobel, whose ill-tempered daughter Louise (otherwise known as Goldilocks) is more interested in reading her story book and yearning for adventure than joining in the festivities with family and friends. Overshadowing them all is the threat of the curse of Black Hawk, who 100 years before had been banished, but is determined to re-gain control of Camelot, aided by his evil assistant Raven. Goldilocks is lured by Raven into the forbidden forest, where she meets Black Hawk, who reveals his plans to capture Sir Robert. Spells are cast on Sir Robert, his trusty knights and other townsfolk, which are eventually broken when the goddess Athena intervenes and helps Goldilocks put matters right, in return for Goldilocks' apology for her former selfish and unfriendly manner towards everyone.
Ranging in age from 8 to 68, the enthusiasm and confidence of the whole cast was evident from the start. The opening chorus number "Camelot" with Richard Cook, suitably aristocratic as Sir Robert and Karen Salter-Poole, elegantly and warmly characterising Lady Isobel, set the scene. This was swiftly followed by the rousing number "One For All" by the three cavalier knights, wonderfully portrayed, in resplendent costumes, by Nina Downing as Sir Thomas, Teresa Wallman as Sir Richard and Ali Wright as Sir Harold. As Goldilocks, young Niahm Downing captured the essence of the rather spoilt young lady who was about to learn a harsh lesson and gave a convincing performance. Another young performer, Thomas Gammon, was suitably menacing in his role as Raven, with good stage presence and Damon Driver was the epitome of evil, as Black Hawk, with a cleverly devised costume adding much to his characterisation. His scene with the "witches" dance to the classic "Sorcerer's Apprentice" was quite riveting, if a little scary!
Providing the fun were Christine Graham as Baroness Charlotte, with her giggly daughters Lady Mary and Lady Jane, well-played by Alex Ball and Carol Poole, and the masterly "Norman Wisdom" style performance by young-hearted Robin Poulter as Billy Brown almost stole the show. Other delightful characterisations as the Gently family, transformed by Raven into Mother, Father and Baby Bear, were provided by Judith Sutcliffe, Martin Redgewell and young Owen Barton. Nice cameos, too, by Bethany Wright as Miss Hedges and Mark Cook, doubled up as Silver Fox and John.
Tashina Smith, Lia Downing, Aryana Salek and Amelia Chapman provided the various dance elements in the show. Particularly enjoyable was the lovely creative choreography devised for the opening scene in Act II "Above The Clouds" where we meet the goddess Athena, gracefully portrayed by Sofia Frataroli, assisted by Amy Gill as Ariel and Jade Ball as Astral. This was a clever departure from the usual role of the good fairy in panto-land and lent a "classical" feel to the proceedings, providing a little period of calm before the exciting and very authentically choreographed sword-fight between the cavaliers, Black Hawk and Raven, when evil is finally vanquished and good prevails.
Colourful costumes, a good scenic plot, managed competently by Jo Dorran, Neil Watson and their stage crew and the projected backdrops and atmospheric lighting plot provided by Steve Williams, all added to this fun-filled, high-energy, performance. With Valerie Caton and Nicole providing the piano and percussion accompaniment for the suitably chosen mix of songs, which were all accomplished well, augmented by backing tracks for the imaginatively choreographed dance numbers, this was a very enjoyable afternoon's entertainment. Thank you all!