Association of Community Theatre
Show Reviews 2017
RED RIDING HOOD
Bacup Royal Court Theatre Group
Directors: Michael Haworth and Claire Ashworth
Producer: Nick Dave
Choreographer: Janice Purslow
The community spirit which runs through Bacup is one to be commended. It is amazing how far this group has moved forward in 12 months through sheer hard work, determination and teamwork. After last year's visit, where the audience was all kitted out in hats, scarves and gloves, it was lovely to be sitting in a nice warm theatre. This is all thanks to a new boiler and some very generous help from the local community. It was also nice to hear the group making fun of their previous misfortunes throughout the production as the references showed a brighter future for them. I must mention Liz Usher. The welcome we received, from the moment we entered the venue, was outstanding and one which should be noted - sincere thanks, Liz.
The curtain lifted to reveal a stunning freeze frame. This really captured the moment and set the scene for all that was about to come. The Harry Potter theme tune was the perfect song choice and the UV lighting, bubble machine and fantastic costumes all of which added to the atmosphere and brought well deserved gasps from the audience. The freeze was broken as quick as a flash when the Fairy Godmother (Claire Ashworth) introduced us to the story. Claire certainly looked the part and instantly engaged with the audience. I particularly liked the dust, dust, dust...a simple but very clever idea. The Fairy Godmothers arch enemy, Malificent, was ably played by Lori-Mae Hooley. From the moment she stepped onto the stage the audience took an immediate dislike to her, a definite job well done. These two characters really gelled and worked well together. Suddenly, the Fairy Godmother had a slight magical mishap which resulted in all of the stories being jumbled together...cue for a very interesting story was about to unfold.
The first character we met was Red Riding Hood's Grandma, which was well played by Janice Purslow, especially with her very effective slow-paced walk. We did feel that this character needed to look older, maybe helped by some creative stage makeup. However, it was fantastic to see Janice keep the character going throughout the show, at least until the Strictly Come Dancing number when she found a winning lottery ticket. Unfortunately, Grandma suddenly became 40 years younger and we felt it would have been more effective to keep the characterisation during the dance.
Billy (Sam Chisnall) then exploded onto the stage and he must be commended for his energy and enthusiasm throughout the entire show. He worked with the audience well and interacted with all cast members. The only time he lost a little pace was if the audience was quiet, thus not providing him with the cues/leads he needed to build on. Sam, I must congratulate you on your solo number, it was truly outstanding...well done!
Abigayle Hames tried hard as Ruby (AKA Red Riding Hood). She sang her songs beautifully with great facial expressions but the occasional rushed lines made it a little difficult to understand. This was a very good effort. Matched alongside Ruby was Hal (Samuel Collinge), the Woodcutter, (sorry, Timber Severence Operative) who certainly worked hard in this role. There was a tendency to over exaggerate this character and it needed toning down slightly so that no lines were lost as a result of too fast a delivery. A highlight is this pairing had to be during 'All of Me' where Hal was surrounded by banana skins, oh, and the token single, rubber chicken! It's lovely to watch a comedy number that maintained professionalism and didn't go too over the top.
The Wolf is such a pivotal role within this Pantomime. Jim Rowe was very believable and got right into character from the moment he walked onto the stage. Jim's performance was of a very high quality. To learn that he had only taken over the role two weeks before the opening night is something to be commended for. His characterisation was enhanced by the fantastic costume and make up, both worthy of gracing any professional stage. The duet 'Something Stupid' between the Wolf and Malificent was great with some humour from the wings provided by Tom and Billy. This was hilarious and I was just waiting for them to dash from the wings SL suddenly to appear in the wings SR. - uncomplicated but competent choreography.
The entrance of the dame 'Madame Chop' (pronounced Sharpay!) to 'I'm fabulous' was outstanding. The costumes provided a very professional appearance. Michael played an excellent Dame and as much as the 'LOL' reference came a few too many times, you just couldn't help but falling in love with this character. This was a highly polished performance and an absolute pleasure to watch.
A definite highlight of the show was the opening to Act Two. It was hilarious and for all the right reasons. The Fairy Godmother singing her heart out, elegantly, to 'Let It Go' only to be overshadowed by the Dame dressed as Elsa singing along and stealing the limelight. The best bit was when Madame Chop accidentally got trapped in the snow, tried to release her foot which resulted in her becoming wrapped around in it, up to her knees so had to shuffle off stage to untangle himself, I mean herself! Amazing scene - well done!
Stephen Wood worked very hard as Tom and maintained the pace of his dialogue throughout. Prim (Dawn Rowe) and Proper (Sam Greaves) worked hard with Dawn gave a commendable performance, Sam didn't quite hit the mark and tended to shout too much which became very distracting.
Every time we saw the company they were animated and well drilled. Each member of the company oozed enthusiasm which permeated through to the audience. I particularly liked the 'dancing Through Life' number. It was very simple, but demonstrated how effective simple numbers can be. They were also filled with innovative ideas, including making balloon models, which added that extra dimension,.
All numbers chosen for this pantomime were relevant, well timed, appropriate and lively such as 'Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf', 'Does Your Mother Know' and 'sunshine In My Pocket' to name a few. It was also a refreshing change to have more up to date jokes with references to Brexit and Trump, for example, and the plug for their next show The Wizard of Oz was very clever.
Compliments to the very creative production team, you got the content and balance just right. Unique ideas were included in this production which added extra flair. This was enhanced by the fabulous set built by Ruth Bearshaw and her creative team. and the wonderful costumes. The lighting was innovative, added atmosphere and, at times, created magical moments.
Overall, a fantastic pantomime, thoroughly enjoyed by your audience. Meeting you all afterwards was a delight and it was lovely to see how proud the acting members are of those 'behind the scenes' and rightly so. A great team effort. Bacup; well done to all.