Writer and Director: Paul Hendy
Reviewer: Victoria Bawtree
Oh no! The legendary Marlowe Theatre Ghost-Gag Bench has been stolen!
Well, thank goodness it’s panto season again and Jack Trot alongside Billy Trott and Dame Trott can rescue one bench, one break-dancing cow and … oh yes, one princess … from the evil clutches of Dr Hefferflumphenstein, some rather freaky zombies, and an overgrown family of giants.
Paul Hendy and Evolution Productions return to Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre for their 9th consecutive pantomime. There is a cast of some old and some new faces; the sets and the costumes are lavish; the music varied and slick, and the script genuinely funny – what more can one need for the perfect family show this festive season?
An impressive line-up includes Samantha Womack as Fairy Sugarsnap and Phil Gallagher as Billy Trot alongside pantomime veterans Ben Roddy as Dame Trot and Lloyd Hollett as Dr Hefferflumphenstein. Trina Hill as Princess May and Jo Parsons as Jack Trot lead most of the main musical production numbers with some strong vocals. John Barr as King Eric completes the unit, and memorably joins the ensemble for a true moment of musical theatre in ‘Climb up high’, aka ‘One Day more’ from Les Miserables to close Act I.
In the true spirit of pantomime, this is a high-energy performance from every member of the cast. For pure speed of one-liners (and costume changes) coupled every time with a perfect gesture, it is hard to fault Ben Roddy as ‘the bloke in a dress’; Lloyd Hollett is a fantastic mix of the child-catcher and Kenny Everett, and Phil Gallagher knows exactly when to step into the limelight and when to support. Samantha Womack throws herself in whole-heartedly to the spirit of panto, always using the script to her advantage.
Musical Director, Chris Wong is another veteran of the Canterbury pantomime, and one who leads a polished five-piece band through a plethora of sound effects to full production numbers. How refreshing too, to have this group built into the final curtain call. This is truly a Marlowe Theatre panto: the Kent place names and road sign sketch, in particular, had the whole family in stitches. As expected from Paul Hendy – it is first-class, fast-paced and the gags and the twists keep on coming.
Runs until 12 January 2014