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Once again we were treated to a pantomime that was written specially for TADS by Lea Pryer, and the cast relished their chance to perform this unusual story, whilst keeping the traditions of pantomime intact.

The very enthusiastic young audience thoroughly enjoyed themselves and entered into the usual repartee with the cast.  

I loved what was literally a book flat at the back of the stage – which gave the title, then each page opened out for various scenes – very cleverly done and it really worked well.  There were some nice lighting effects, which added to the feel of the production.

Rapunzel’s tower, which is of course central to the story, was nicely constructed, and I loved the way Grizelda and the Prince were hauled up into the tower on Rapunzel’s plaited hair – most amusing, but a good way of coping with a tricky situation!  The youngsters in the audience loved it.

Costumes were colourful and mostly good-looking.  

I thought the music choices were mostly suitable, however the only problem with canned music is that sometimes it goes on a bit too long, which tends to lose a younger audience at times.  There were some lovely harmonies though, which showed that the music was of importance to the performance too.

Susie Conder was a lovely Fairy Philomena, she was the narrator of the piece as well, and really got the light touch of a Fairy in her performance.  Susie was nicely backed in some musical numbers by the Philettes, played by Paris Ovenden, Rachel Harris and Charlotte Ridley, a charming trio.  Their first number was little tentative, but they seemed to gain in confidence as they progressed through the show.

Chloe Palmer was a charming Rapunzel, I liked her approach to her role, and she certainly looked the part.  The relationship between her and Grizelda and her and the Prince were very good.

MikeCollins played the Prince – a different role for him, and I think that in the main he pulled it off well.  I particularly liked the scenes with Rapunzel in the tower – he struck just the right note.  There were a couple of times when I needed a little more Princely attitude to add another dimension to the scenes.

The Prince’s sidekick Spencer, was played by Rory Smith, he plays these slightly laid-back, dim characters so well, and was a good contrast to the go-get-‘em attitude of the Prince.

Rachel Birks pulled out all the stops as the evil Enchantress Grizelda – she delivered a horribly wicked character to the full, and with her evil gargoyles, Janet Bray as Snigger and Harry Rodgers as Snarl, we had a great trio to boo at.  I loved being able to boo and hiss them!

The trio of delightful young ladies - Daisy Kennedy, Freya Lalji and Alice Wills (on the night I was there) - as the flowers in the Baroness’s garden did their dance number well, if a little at odds with each other occasionally, but it didn’t matter as they looked so lovely, and they sang out really well.

Andrew Naish was Tess Coe the Dame of the piece.  He lacked a little of the full-on crassness of a Dame, but on the whole kept it going well.  

Kathryn Durancer gave an eerie characterisation as Death, and I liked the Ant & Dec scene, with Michelle Chamberlain, it was nice and lively, although strictly speaking I think they were placed on the wrong side of each other as Dec is always on Ant’s left (our right as we look at the stage)!!  But they interacted well and gave us a light side to a scene fraught with danger for Rapunzel.

Baron and Baroness Fortune were played by Kevin Birkett and Jo Tillin, and I really got their despair at first not being able to have a child, and then having to give her to Grizelda.

The chorus supported the cast well, and mostly looked to be enjoying what they did.  I liked the choreography, it was kept simple and therefore was effective, as everyone seemed to know what they were doing, and looked happy doing it, except for the Rhythm of Life number, when everyone looked a little worried, although they needn’t have done as they accomplished an effective piece.

There were a couple of places where the pace flagged, and the cast lost a bit of momentum, but it lifted again and carried on apace.

All in all a nicely written and performed pantomime, and good to see something different again from TADS, always a bonus.

TADS Theatre Group


review date Dec 2012

Written & Directed by:  Lea Pryer

Choreographers: Lea Pryer & Susie Conder


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