FamilyNorth WestPantomimeReview

Goldilocks and the Three Bears – St. Helens Theatre Royal

Reviewer: Rebecca Cohen

Director: Chantelle Nolan

It seems to be a new trend to the theatre scene to not limit the pantomime season to just Christmas. And over at St. Helens Theatre Royal, there’s an Easter pantomime – Goldilocks and the Three Bears – to egg-cite and entertain families over the school break.

The concept of a pantomime at a different time of year is one that’s been a long time coming. It gets youngsters into the theatre scene early, it’s silly, more laid back than the average production and it has the heroes and villains that kids adore to love and hate. The concept of Goldilocks as a pantomime is a strange one – the little girl, who still goes into the bear’s cottage, eats all the porridge, sits on the chairs and sleeps in their beds, yet also falls in love with a circus ringmaster, is a weird scenario for the grown-ups to grasp – but as with anything panto, you learn to go along with anything, no matter how bizarre it gets.

This particular production clearly has a local following – it’s not as big and fancy as some of the other equivalent shows out there, but it has enough to keep the youngsters – more so than the adults – gripped from beginning to end.

The costumes and set are fabulous, in particular the multitude of extravagant gowns for Dame Gertie, played by Richard Aucott (no stranger to the panto world). Although, be warned, the Barbie and Ken scene with the Dame and Silly Billy (Lewis Devine) may create a visual memory that you’ll struggle to get rid of for a long time! The dancing and variety are also impressive – with trapeze, fire eating and a cute showcase from Doggy Delights all intertwined among the narrative.

That said, the interactive element of the show lacks, in comparison to other pantomimes. There’s no ‘oh yes he is’ or ‘he’s behind you moments’ – yes, some ‘golden ticket’ winning children get to go on the stage at the end for a rendition of the Wheels on the Bus, yes there’s boos for the wicked Baron Von Vippemall (Conor Barrie), but it feels like the script should have more audience engaging moments. It also feels like there’s less of the conventional panto sketches than normal, for example the ghost on the bench scene or the falling of the wall scene, and some of the jokes throughout the show do unfortunately fall flat. The singing and songs too are questionable – bar Katy McKenna, who plays the leading lady, the vocals aren’t going to blow you away and there could be even more popular culture song choices, to get the audience going more.

At the end of the show, you are given the option to meet some of the characters on the stage. A lovely touch, but one that could do with a disclaimer for parents – at £8 a pop, it’s a great and much-needed money raiser for the theatre, but more transparency on cost, especially after families have already bought tickets, wouldn’t go amiss.

It’s definitely an entertaining night, with solid performances from the principals and ensemble, but while children aren’t going to notice the tiny details, there is definitely more that could be done for the grown ups to make this one ‘just right’.

Runs until 14 April 2024.

The Reviews Hub Score

Eggstra sparkle needed

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The Reviews Hub - North West

The North West team is under the editorship of John McRoberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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