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NODA Review -
What a lovely warm welcome greeted me when I arrived at Thalian Hall, the Welwyn Thalian’s headquarters. A modest sized hall with a wide stage at one end. I immediately noticed the surround on the proscenium arch covered with beautifully painted roses and thorns and a crown in the center.
The opening number was well sung and immediately put everyone in panto’ mood.
Billy (Tim Spinks) was well cast, with a good rapport and a cheeky smile. It is essential that whoever plays this role understands that they are the main link between the storyline and the audience and this was achieved perfectly.
King Norbert (Peter Farrell) played the frustrated yet lovable foil to Queen Dorothy, ably portrayed by Peter Sayers. This was a good pairing with the experience to verbally bounce off each other.
Kitty (Jodie Mardlin) was soft and gentle and would be loved by every little girl in the audience. I would have liked a few more cat like movements and hands cupped into paw shapes but on the whole a pleasing performance.
Fairy Peaceful (Gillian Shaw) was very well cast. Good clear diction and excellent use of pause and awareness of audience. I liked this portrayal very much, well done.
The three Fairy Godmothers (Stephanie Dunn, Louise Bateman and Vicki Collins) worked well as a team and supported Fairy Peaceful appropriately.
Carabosse (Amanda Sayers) or should I call her Cara Bossy, did an excellent job as the evil Fairy. This experienced actress knew just how to work her audience to the maximum. Vocal range was good and facial expression perfect for the character.
Spindleshanks (Tammy Wall) gave us a new and alternative slant to the evil fairy’s sidekick. Good interaction with the audience and I enjoyed the modern interpretation on cat movements. However, her costume seemed somewhat lacking for such a bad cat. Ripped coloured fishnets covering the arms, legs and chest overlaid on the black might have added another dimension and made her character visually more interesting.
Princess Aurora was played by a young Lauren Hill. Playing Principal Girl is a good way to learn your craft but you need to wok on projection and breath control. Vocals were good but do not be afraid to own the stage, especially when you sing. This was a nice performance that will develop with experience. A leading lady in the making I think.
Prince Orlando (Alison Downes) although a relatively minor character in this version of the story, did well to portray the typical Principle Boy. Body stance was perfect, with thighs pulled up tight and shoulders back. The duet with Princess Aurora was enjoyable but lacked power but perhaps this was due to the choice of song.
The ensemble worked hard, singing, dancing and smiling throughout. The rat dance was great fun but the highlight for me was the Dream Land Ballet. This had a beautiful fluidity about it and I enjoyed it very much
Lighting was well positioned and costumes appropriate although I would have liked to see Princess Aurora with her hair taken off her face and her makeup a shade darker. This is panto’ time so bring on the false lashes and bright lipstick! For me the fairies needed more sparkle on their eyes and cheeks and again hairstyles needed addressing. Makeup for the OTT characters was good but for mere mortals faces were very pale and the stage lighting drained the skin of colour.
Choreography was simple yet adequate for the size of stage and the various abilities of the cast. No one looked out of place or awkward.
This production was performed well considering the weakness of the script and I was pleased that some current jokes were interjected to bring the dialogue up to date.
Well done to you all.
Thank you for your hospitality -