For this year’s panto Hamble Players have offered another slice of festive fun to get us in the mood for Christmas. A sharp script with some good topical jokes, beautiful costumes and an excellent use of lighting and sound meant that this was both a treat to the ear as well as the eye. Director Sheila Barker kept things moving along at a good pace, with room for silly routines and sing-a-longs, but without any element over-staying its welcome.

The cast were clearly having a good time and their enthusiasm was infectious.  Anna Marie Smith was a charming Princess Rose and Susan Barton-Leigh and Grant Hearn were great fun as her parents Queen Marigold and King Cactus.  The latter’s duet in the first half was given a rapturous reception by the audience.  Maria Barnett cackled away nicely as the Bad Witch Hazel, a perfect foil for the Good Fairy Lilac (Tara Barton-Leigh) who was sweet without being too saccharine. Cara Thompson (Fetch) and Mandy Boterhoek (Carrie) also made a lovely double act – their routine with the post and postal destinations was great fun.  James Ratcliffe was wonderfully vain and dim as the Gaston-like Prince and his much more go-getting great grandson. His use of a lovely red-light sabre to fight his way into the castle was a nice touch.

Tim Hughes settled into the role of Nurse Hettie Harpic becoming more confident as the night went on. In the first act he had not quite developed the easy rapport with the audience and with it the commanding presence required to dominate the role.

It was great to see the younger members of the cast having an opportunity to showcase their talents and to shine both in dance and singing.  And we cannot fail to mention the charm and panache of the lovely donkey (Dave Greenhalf and Terry Barnett).

At the centre of all this was the veritable bundle of energy that is Beverley Sell (Muddles) bringing immense charm and charisma to the role, and exhibiting a real talent for physical comedy.

A great example of how to do panto – Christmas is indeed here!

Karen Robson

Sleeping Beauty 2019 Review
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