Association of Community Theatre

Show Reviews 2017


Burnley Pantomime Society


Director:  Kevin Kay

Musical Director: Jonathan Chalker

Dance arranger: Lynne McCheyne


Even before the curtain opened the audience was clapping along to the overture, children's hand held toys were flashing all colours of the rainbow and the atmosphere was electric!


The show opened with Flora, the beautiful Fairy (Jenny Gill) and Belladonna, the menacing, evil Fairy (Rebecca Wright).  Jenny's performance was fabulous from start to finish.  The pace of dialogue and was expertly delivered and she interacted very well with her arch enemy, Belladonna.    Rebecca was evil personified which resulted in the audience taking an instant dislike to her and the boos continued throughout the show.  However, I would have preferred the character to stand tall as I feel this would have made the character even more commanding.  The duet in the second half 'What Is This Feeling' was excellent and clearly demonstrated the talent of both of these actresses.


The company then presented its opening number and the stage was awash with colour, slick choreography and a very large cast.  The costumes in this scene, and throughout the show, were truly fantastic.  I particularly liked the dancers coming into the audience as it brought the production right to us.


Following this we were introduced to several of the characters.  Ermengarde (Jamie Leigh Hindman) and Esmerelda (Kayleigh Hindle) were well cast as Belle's brash and somewhat troublesome sisters.  Their 'Gimme, Gimme, Gimme' number was well executed. I especially liked the up-to-date additions to the script such as updating their Tinder profile and #gorgeous, it made the script relevant.  This script provided a second comedy duo, Monique and Marcel, the Beauty Salon owners.  Louise Young was fantastic as Monique, the blond bombshell from Essex.  She never stopped the characterisation, even when in the background of a scene.  The other half of this pairing was played by Leighton Hunt who worked hard as Marcel but was overshadowed somewhat  by the strength of Louise's characterisation.


Madam Fifi then burst onto the stage, entering to 'Material World'.  This was an excellent number, supported by the high quality dancers of Lynne McChyne who all looked exceptionally smart in their black tails and tights.  Kevin Kay worked extremely hard as Madam Fifi and demonstrated fantastic comedy timing and interaction with the audience.  His ability to bring the script back on track, following ad libs or lack of audience participation, demonstrated his professionalism.  Kevin was ably supported by Neil Tranmer (Alphonse) and Jonathan Pye (Jacques).  Both men delivered strong performances and worked well within the trio. I particularly enjoyed the characterisation of Alphonse from Neil, it suited the role perfectly whilst Jonathan maintained the high levels of energy required for this character throughout.


Laura Chadwick gave a convincing portrayal as Belle and she certainly looked the part.  She interacted well with Gary Leonard (Beast) who worked hard in his role.  However, I would have liked to see you lift your head as the Beast because the hair on the wig was covering your face for the majority of the time.  A definite highlight for this pairing was during their dance 'Tale As Old As Time' sang beautifully by Jenny Gill.  The costumes were exquisite and the whole number set a beautiful atmosphere.   A key moment in the show is the transformation scene and I was really looking forward to seeing how this was tackled.  Regrettably, the transformation happened too early which resulted in the audience seeing the change and therefore the magic was lost.


Unfortunately, Belle has to endure unwelcome advances from the self-assured, exhibitionist, Gustave, as he tries to lure Belle and convince her to marry him, to no avail.  Greg Wharf tried hard in this role, making the part his own although, perhaps, needed more muscle.  Gustave asks for assistance from Monsieur Le Fou to take Alphonse away after he says he is mad after reporting that there is a beast.  Pete Morville was excellent in this role and captured the essence of the character extremely well.


Throughout the show cast members entered the audience and this was an excellent touch it.  It was particularly effective during the kill the Beast scene.  I did feel the water guns were a little too powerful however and those firing them were a bit too over zealous, as several audience members got extremely wet, rather than slightly damp.


A definite highlight of the show was the finale of act one. The song was sung beautifully by Jenny Gill, simply outstanding and this was supported by excellent staging and lighting.


I must congratulate Jonathan Chalker. His musical number choices were excellent and it was nice to see sections of numbers being chosen instead of using the whole song as this ensured the pace of the show was maintained.  It was also lovely to see a live band being used and by following the script, added in incidental music as and when required.


The community song was one of the funniest I have seen and it was lovely to see so many of the audience, of varying ages, on their feet taking part.  I believe even the ACT Panto agents were caught on video participating!


I cannot forget the fantastic set, designed by David 'Wally' Walton.  It was superb and really captured the essence of the story perfectly.


Congratulations to all at Burnley Pantomime Society.  It was a thoroughly entertaining evening, enjoyed by all who watched.  Many thanks for your kind hospitality and welcome. We had a very enjoyable evening.