Date 4th December 2021
Society Margate Operatic Society
Venue Winter Gardens
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Neil Patterson
Choreographer Amy Simpson


Author: Cheryl Marksford

With so many pantomimes around at this time of the year it's always interesting to be invited to review one which is less run-of-the-mill. The pantomime version of this fairy tale does manage to embrace all the requisite panto characters within the storyline and MOS always seems to have a receptive audience even if numbers were smaller than in pre-covid times.

I liked the beginning of this version of Rapunzel with a storyteller setting the scene and enabling the story to develop clearly. The opening scene was a nicely set opportunity for the chorus. The script made a very good attempt at making a pantomime out of the Rapunzel story, without falling into the trap of just re-writing Disney’s Tangled. There was a good slapstick scene in the pub, but it was over too quickly, and it would have been great to see even more of this humour peppered throughout the production. The lantern scene was beautiful and cleverly executed. The ensemble/chorus members showed a real knack for dancing throughout, especially Hannah Prentice-Whitney who stood out in many of the dances.

The cast were all good in their roles and they all tried to wring as much comedy out of the script as possible. Shannon Essery, as the titular character, gave an assured and confident performance. She had the most clear and soppy sound to her voice and really acted the part of a naive young lady, bringing out all the trusting, innocent, childlike quality of the character.

The ever-reliable Stuart Clements did a smashing job of portraying Pascal, Rapunzel’s sidekick and managed to get the audience on his side from the beginning. His antics encouraged enthusiastic participation from the audience, both young and old. Both Harcus Copper and Guy Underwood worked well together as Andre and Vezzini – the story’s token numbskulls, though with one of them being the Dame, I felt something was missing in the dynamic. That being said I believe they were a cast member down when I watched so that may have added to my slight confusion.

Larah Simpson as Fynn was everything you would ask for in an anti-hero. Her tone and inflection particularly impressed and I found myself watching her even when she was not speaking. Her relationship with Rapunzel was very convincing. As the baddie of the piece, Jodie Scobie gave a solid performance though she could have been eviller in her role. Her character was well developed, and she seemed to relish playing against type.

There were solid performances from all the cast and just because they may not have been individually mentioned does, by no means belittle the importance they played. This production was well executed, slick and enjoyable and that was only possible because of every single cast member’s effort.

I think the whole show had been exceedingly well rehearsed. The sets helped to enhance the telling of the story along with the lights and stage effects. Everything was underpinned by good song choices and an efficient stage crew who managed the many scene changes most effectively. The costumes, make-up and wigs were all fabulous.

I left the evening with a deep appreciation for the sheer hard work and dedication which had been evidently poured into the production. I felt happy and festive which is want you want after any pantomime. I look forward to seeing what you present in the future.