Panto heralds start of Christmas

THIS was the panto which heralded the New Wolsey's first Christmas since its reopening back at the turn of the century - but this new production shows that familiarity need not breed contempt!It may be a recycled show, but it's been given an injection of energy with a bright, talented cast who delighted the audience on opening night.

THIS was the panto which heralded the New Wolsey's first Christmas since its reopening back at the turn of the century - but this new production shows that familiarity need not breed contempt!

It may be a recycled show, but it's been given an injection of energy with a bright, talented cast who delighted the audience on opening night.

The numbers are all very familiar - they will get you clapping, they'll get your feet tapping, they'll even get you dancing in the aisles at the end of the show!

Once again the actors all double up as talented musicians, playing the sax or trumpet one minute and the keyboards the next.

For the first time panto-visitor, this can be confusing - but you soon get used to Cinderella turning up on the trumpet while Prince Charming sings or the ugly sisters accompanying a tender love song!

That's really what makes the Rock 'n' Roll pantos that we see at the Wolsey so special - they are classy yet intimate. They don't look for big names who jet in for a few weeks from soaps. They rely on top-class entertainers who know how to perform in rep theatre like this.

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Sarah Scowen is a delightful Cinderella - playing opposite Mark Stanford's somewhat naive Prince Charming.

Kit Orton's Dandini is a rock star wanabee while Esther Biddle's evil stepmother Rubella De Zees (disease - get it?) brings a touch of comic menace.

But the real high comedy moments are, of course, provided by ugly sisters Hernia and Verruca - giving Justin Brett and Anthony Coote to show their credentials as panto dames.

And there are also plenty of laughs when Buttons (Adam Baxter) and Baron Hardup (Kieran Cunningham) are about.

As ever, though, the rock and roll panto is much more than the sum of its parts.

Everything comes together to genuinely provide great entertainment for the whole family. There are old jokes that will make you groan. There are even one or two slightly risqué lines which are probably not enough to make to make Granny blush but should make dad smile!

Great fun. Great entertainment. Christmas has arrived in Ipswich.

Paul Geater.

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