Reviewed by Donald Madgwick for The Croydon Advertiser
“This isn’t even a proper panto.” So says a character in it, and even with a brace of fairies, a Dame and a Principal Boy, she should know. The trouble is, there are so many hybrids about these days that we hardly know where we are in the festive season any longer.
The show is written and directed by Richard Lloyd, a man in whose head buzz more ideas than bees in a bonnet. Some of them are good, others less so. But if originality counts for anything, this is one for your diary.
We are in the Badlands of Coulsdon, where Don Rigatoni and his assistant Enzo Tortellini run a crooked pizza restaurant. But the real villains are Michael Ricotta and his sidekicks Sonny Marscapone and his moll Bella Donna Gorgonzola, the other hoods Jimmy Cannellini and Vincent Borlotti being, in panto terms, mere brokers’ men.
Tina Poole is Fairy Cake, the one who makes the observation quoted above. She is teamed with Rosie Martin as the sweetly amiable Fairy Suds, and her wonderfully over-the-top tetchiness helps make them an attractively contrasted coupling.
The standard of singing is commendable, especially when belting out the excellent ensemble number Mamma Mia which ends the first act, and in the impressive individual talent of Tanya Allison, a sparky Idle Jack with a wistfully appealing vocal talent.
Comedy is well served by Mike Brown, the bustling Daphne Bungalow who heads the Coulsdon and Purley District Police Consultative Committee, or, for not-so-short Copdispolconcom.
He is all a Dame should be, orchestrating the proceedings and daring us to lose interest in a cliff-hanging plot which involves lethal cheese and a gangster transformed into a fairy.
The panto horse doesn’t have a lot to do, but I liked the joke about its head in a bed. Vanessa Hammick plays the slinky Principal Girl with sexy relish, and other good performance include Chris Argles and Tim Young as in the pizzeria, and the splendidly bitchy Bella Donna of Emma Rose.
Musical Director Mark Taylor leads a lively six piece band which is given plenty to do. But as to whether Fairy Cake is right in her assessment of the show, you will have to form your own judgement.
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