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As my last pantomime of 2016, I was pleased that the year went out with a bang, with one of the best pantomimes I have seen from HHTC.

I note that this was a NODA pantomime, written by Peter Denyer, who has become increasingly popular with groups around the country, and whose take on panto is traditional, but with a few quirks.

This production was colourful, had all the right panto elements, and was mostly pacey and slick.  The audience participated right from the outset, which always enlivens a pantomime.

The set worked well, and the changes were good, with suitable lighting and good sound throughout.  I note there were different people on the technical teams, good to see more people being involved in what is often the slightly neglected side of a production.

I liked the music choices, and was pleased that the musical numbers were kept short and snappy.  Loved the 12 Days of Christmas scenario, tried and tested, but always great fun and this version worked really well.

Costumes were lovely, and I thought the Dame looked so good, all her costumes were exactly right for the character.  I understand some of the costume people were new to it, so they did particularly well.

It was nice to see a lot of new faces in the cast, and hope they have enjoyed themselves enough to want to return and take part in other productions.

Paul Passi as the Minstrel kept the narration going well, and adopted a nicely different persona as a contrast to the rest of the cast – the slightly vague, other-worldly quality added to the fun.

David Lodge and Karina Bygate as the King and Queen of Arcadia were well-suited and I enjoyed the way they played off each other.

Dave Simmonds gave Bumble the Chancellor a good bumbly portrayal – and he created good relationships with the other cast members.

Matt Hatton was a splendid Dame – I just needed him to stand still occasionally, his constant movement was a little distracting, other than that he did really well, and looked comfortable in the part and his costumes.

I loved Mariam Gaballa-Gill as Carabosse – she looked very evil, and acted it so well, with great projection which gave emphasis to the malevolence of the character. She performed her numbers well, whilst keeping the wickedness going!

Taylor Farnella created a feisty Princess Beauty, I really liked what she did with the part, getting a real character out of what can often be a token part.  Very well achieved.  Taylor also has a nice singing voice, and I particularly liked her numbers with the Prince, where they had some really nice harmonies that gave the songs lots of interest.

Chloe Simpkins gave Prince Michael a good thigh-slapping principal boy image, plenty to get her teeth into.  I liked her fights with the Black Knight, the second one was a little more edgy and fierce.

The three fairies, Lilac, Gold and Silver were well-matched, and created a nice trio of fairy godmothers.

Jordan McNabb played the Black Knight with panache, and I also liked his presence in the ensemble numbers, a good person to have in the cast, I hope we see more of him in future productions.

The Junior Ensemble all did extremely well, lots of energy, and I think we all had a collective “aah” when little Chloe Bourne appeared as the Stork, she certainly made an impression for one so small!  The toy box item also worked really well.

The Adult Ensemble all moved and sang well, and looked after the Juniors without making it too obvious.

So, all in all a very good panto, with lots of fun, drama and enthusiasm, a thoroughly enjoyable evening, which I hope the audiences appreciated.

Hemel Hempstead Theatre Company


review date: 16th Dec 2016

Boxmoor Playhouse

Director: Lynda Livsey Randall

MD:  Ben Weitzmann   Choreographer:  Paula Geere


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