Romeo and Juliet - The Panto

Date 16th February 2019
Society Melksham Music and Drama
Venue Rachel Fowler Centre, Melksham
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Mandy Raikes-May
Musical Director Sue Fennell
Choreographer Penelope Taylor
Producer Sue Fennell


Author: Dee Way

This home-written show was a wonderfully irreverent interpretation of the famous tale, with snatches of the original text used alongside some very creative writing.  As it was specifically written for this group to perform, it was no wonder that the show demonstrated the strengths of the Society's performers so well.

The writing was unusual in that it mixed parts of the old-style Shakespearean play with very modern songs, language and actions.  As such it was a refreshing new look at this famous love story. The happy ending was nicely pointed and fitted rather well.  The Direction, by the writer, was creative, but somehow that fitted with this interpretation of the story.  The danger of the production falling between the two stools of pantomime or play was avoided through the immense level of fun for both cast and audience, the pantomime characters, their jokes, repartee and adapted songs.  The strong acting of many of the characters, such as Paris, Romeo and Juliet and Friar Lawrence, brought enormous life to the production.  

The set was very ingenious, with good adaptability and clear sight lines. The towers each side framed the action beautifully, while the pair of balconies with the banners hanging down looked very good.  I particularly liked the use of the balcony in the love scene.  The use of Bill and Walter to introduce scenes and to interpret the action was excellent.  This was a very good idea that worked very well, as it gave the audience a breathing space occasionally as well as directing the focus of the action very well. 

Lighting and sound were both good, and were nicely used to highlight action and to limit the visual circle.  The Elizabethan-style costumes were lovely and very effective, giving an air of historical influence to the whole show.  I think you must have bought up all the large leather belts in town for this show  - they were spectacular!  The masks at the ball were very effective, too.

The music for the show was really good, with well-known songs that fitted the story well sung heartily by the cast and mandolin incidental music.    The solo song by Paris 'I want it all' was brilliant, as were many the other numbers sung by cast members.  In fact, the music pitch and style seemed extremely well suited to the cast.   The choreography was very well done for such a limited acting space, with the pillars well used. 

However, it was the cast that made this production so successful.  The characters came alive in this production and their story was easy to tell because of the realistic and believable characters.  The mix of silly humour, ad libs, jokes and serious text were wonderfully jumbled together and made a most memorable production.  This may not have been the most professional version I have seen of this play, but my goodness, it was such enormous fun and had such energy that it was a show I think the bard would have approved of.