You can’t go wrong with the Chrysanths panto, which is less a show and more an institution. In 2019 Chrysanths deservedly won the prestigious NODA Regional Councillors Award in recognition for their work over the last 100 years. The 2019 panto has the same endearing combination of local jokes, unembarrassed sentimentality and crowd-pleasing sing-a-longs that keeps the Chrysanths panto up on the seasonal must see calendar. There are no celebrities here (at least, not of the kind that anyone outside the town would recognise), nor are there any noticeable shifts towards the irony or self-parody that characterise new pantomime. Its safeness and reliability are part of Chrysanths charm, and this production has charm in spades.
Panto would be nothing without a Dame and, of course, Cinderella gives us two. The ugly sisters played with great aplomb by Chrysanths favourites Jed Flowerday and Graham Lee. Supposed to be identical twins, you really couldn’t tell them apart in looks or behaviour!! Both stayed just the right side of “over the top”, despite the fun they had with the slapstick and comedy routines a great pairing. Fine performances.
The small but adequate band, directed by Norman Scott, was perfect for the show, never overwhelming the performers. The huge chorus of young dancers’ were wonderful, and all looked like they were really enjoying themselves. This makes such a difference to how much an audience enjoys the show. Indeed the opening scene introduced us to the Buds, Posies, and Petals, Blossoms and Blooms, all fifty four of the talented young people opening the show magnificently. The song and dance numbers were extremely well constructed and delivered with style. Well done to choreographer Rebecca Gardner and assistant Hannah Laidlaw, and Musical Director Norman Scott.
Looking at the list of the Creative and Production teams in the programme makes you realise just how many people it takes behind the scenes to put on a show like this. The scenery was perfect and the scene changes spot on, great work from stage manager Phil Rochford and backstage crew. Congratulations must go to the wardrobe for the stunning costumes. Well done Sheila Weaver Principal Costume Coordinator, they were stunning, a mention too for Thelma Warrington and the team for the children’s costumes truly wonderful.
Cinderella is one of our most popular pantomimes, a lovely romantic story, loveable characters, especially Cinderella. Charlie Delaney gave a warm and sensitive performance as the unhappy put upon Cinderella, her first meeting with Prince Charming posing as his friend Dandini, was a lovely scene.
The transition from Cinderella to Princess Crystal was a delight. Maria Larkin did a stunning performance as the Fairy Godmother, beautifully done considering this was your first role in a pantomime, well done.
Alfie Ross brought us a delightful Buttons, energetic and entertaining. The camaraderie with Cinderella was a delight to watch. The scene with the Snowman was true panto. His warm interaction with the audience was a joy. Lovely performance Alfie.
Baron and Baroness Hardup (Phil Gilroy and Leanne Burgess) were brilliantly cast, the audience responding well to the wicked step-mother’s every appearance with loud Boo’s. Great fun. The Baron dutifully obeying his cruel wife while trying to keep the peace with Sambuca and Verruca, and his first daughter Cinderella.
The Royal household of The King, (Stevie Rooke), Princess Rose (Freya Beresford) Dandini (Laura Jackson) this was Laura’s first major role well done a fine performance, hard to believe she is only 14. Last but not least Prince Charming (Jessica Nixon) gave us a feisty performance, being determined to find the beautiful Princess Crystal with the aid of a glass slipper.
Two scenes were highlights for me in this extremely entertaining panto, the final scene in Act One where Cinderella is transported to the Royal Ball in her beautiful coach semi suspended above the stage was simply spectacular, musically and visually, stunning.
Staggering home from the Royal Ball we find The King and Baron Hardup obviously drunk. They were absolutely hilarious. It is very difficult to play a comic drunk effectively, Phil Gilroy and Stevie Rooke pulled it off with style. Great comic performances.
Chrysanthemums gave us a good script containing all the right ingredients for a traditional panto, strong direction by Julie Delaney & Graham Leigh, and a talented and enthusiastic cast, all added up to a truly enjoyable production of this favourite show, appreciated with enthusiasm by a full house.
Thank you for inviting me, I thoroughly enjoyed the show, and yes I will see you all again next year.