Due to Covid-19 and various tier restrictions around the UK we will not be travelling to venues to review any live performances for this season.
KidZania London in collaboration with Louis Rayneau
Directed by Louis Rayneau and Lauren Osborne
Musical Director Ed Court
Visit the official website here
This is a delightful, colourful and family friendly version of the classic panto tale which is certain to delight younger audiences and the perfect way to keep them occupied in the gap between Christmas celebrations and the new year. It has a traditional style of storytelling but has been filmed in a very fresh way with a really clever use of space and technique to engage viewers. The opening number (a take on a Greatest Showman favourite) sets the scene for our adventure ahead of us meeting the likes of Buttons, Cinderella's wicked Stepmother, the Fairy Godmother and a pair of monstrous Ugly Sisters. There are lovely song choices (even Queen fans are covered here!). This is 45 minutes very well spent and a lovely Christmas treat in a year when we have been left craving a panto fix. This hidden gem of a production really deliveries something different and manages to stand out in what has become a slightly overcrowded market of online pantos, there is some real talent amongst this cast.
Starring Jamie Jones, Beccy Lane, Amy Matthews, Nicholas McLean, Luke Street, Ru Fisher, Hannah Grace Lawson, Josh Harrison Yellop, Ashlee Young, Ashleigh Harvey, Courtney Jackson, Rachel Sargent.
ONCE UPON A PANTOMIME
Anton Benson Productions
Filmed at Rhyl Pavilion Theatre
Written by Anton Benson, Ryan Greaves, Kate Salmon (Additional material by Steve Wood)
Musical Director Ashley Walsh
Visit the official website here
Welcome to the who's who of pantomime! This show boasts an impressive line up with a star casting like no other as the entertainment world comes together with this panto mashup that has all of your favourite panto characters from across the wider fairy-tale universe adorned with princes, princesses, villains and dames galore. The story is an original one as our heroic good Fairy, Fairy Tale, must put pay to the evil Witch Karona who has made it her mission to put an end to pantomime, invading and destroying them one story at a time. In a year that has seen an abundance of online and streaming pantomimes this is our pick of the bunch and if you only watch one then make it this one. Recorded on a real theatre stage this show has proper scenery and full song and dance numbers (with a dance ensemble that most online panto’s have been lacking).
Lauren Platt delivers the most wonderful version of the song ‘Once Upon a Time’ and Sam Bailey belts out the power ballad 'When You Believe' and we have to mention Dave Benson Phillips who is literally bursting with energy as the fantastic Genie of the Lamp. We also have to give special mention to the high energy rendition of the classic panto skit The 12 Days of Christmas - this version comes with added dinosaurs!
This is as close to the real magic of panto as you can get outside of a theatre, a total triumph and the crowning glory of the panto world for 2020.
Starring Sam Bailey, Dave Benson Phillips, Gemma Bissix, Ashleigh Bitler, Graham Cole, Bobby Crush, Gareth Gates, Ryan Greaves, Phylip Harries, Barney Harwood, Anne Hegerty, Hannah Hobley, Georgie Jackson, Kerry Katona, Mark Labbett, Phil Mealey, Nathan Morris, Lauren Platt, Kate Salmon, Ben Sherlock, Clare Sloane, Nathan Smith, Bruce Jones.
JACK AND THE TWO METRE BEANSTALK
Filmed at the Stag Theatre, Sevenoaks (19th December 2020)
Written & Directed by Jamie Alexander Wilson
We are no fans of green screens and we have seen many attempts this season of online pantomimes trying to make use of it, so we were so relieved to see that this production certainly doesn't rely on anything as cheap and nasty as that and instead has utilised a giant screen to display some wonderful projections to create the panto land we are destined to visit. This was recorded as live and the production succeeds in bringing us the magic of panto as best any production could under current circumstances with a very professionally recorded production. The talented cast work together beautifully as they take us on a magical topical journey filled with plenty of song and dance. Jamie Alexander Wilson makes for a very glamorous Dame Trott and Rosie Glossop is simply divine as Fairy Fabulous. Through no fault of it's own it felt slightly as if this recording would have benefited from a larger audience to give us those reactions and just help with the flow a little but that was not possible for obvious reasons but this show did deserve a full live audience and I hope that when they reunite in 2021 (fingers crossed for February) it will be infront of sold out audiences that would have loved to be a part of this. The 2 man orchestra deserve a special shout out, they sound wonderful! This production deserves your support and viewing and we would urge you to make a purchase to enjoy in the run up to the end of a diabolically depressing year and download the tale of Jack and the Two Metre Beanstalk. Well done team, we have always heard great things about panto at The Stag, now we know it's all true!
Starring Jamie Alexander Wilson, Sophie Linder-Lee, Ant Payne, Rosie Glossop and Jacob McIntosh
Polka Dot Pantomimes & The Original Online Panto Company
Written by Darren Maddison & Phil Norton
Directed by Lorinda King
Musical Director James Breckon
Available to stream until 3rd January 2021
Polka Dot Pantomimes have teamed up with the Original Online Panto Company to bring this very professional Christmas pantomime to us all to enjoy from the comfort of our own homes at a time when the majority of us are unable to make that annual trip to our local theatre. It was a lovely surprise to see Eric Potts (One of our all time favourite Dames) pop up to introduce the performance and lead us into the magical adventure. Nothing will ever replace the joy of live theatre in a venue but this production does a great job of bringing the magic to the masses. In a year which has seen an abundance of some very questionable online pantomimes pop up, this one certainly stands out, It was filmed onstage in front of an audience with a real set, no dodgy green screen and canned laughter here but there are some lovely touches of digital enhancement that really add to the overall look and provide a little flurries of extra magic in places. Benidorm favourite Crissy Rock leads the cast as Fairy Nuff with more than a few touches of her Benidorm character Janey on display and she is surrounded by a fantastic and talented ensemble. All of the expected and welcomed elements are perfectly present (including a rendition of If I were Not Upon This Stage) with song and dance aplenty in that special pantomime style. This is our first experience of seeing Robert Squire in a full panto performance and it's fair to see we really rate his dame and will be certain to catch him in person in future years, we are putting him up there in our top ten of panto dames. Bravo to all involved!
Starring Crissy Rock, Charlie Griffiths, Nick Wymer, Chris Pym, Rebecca Lake, Robert Squire and Andrew Curphey
CINDERELLA: A COMIC RELIEF PANTOMIME FOR CHRISTMAS
BBC2 24th December 2020, 8.15pm
This is the condensed pantomime story of Cinderella presented through the medium of Zoom, something we have all become very familiar with over the last 9 months. Is it really a pantomime? No, certainly not, it’s a bunch of celebs who come together (but very much apart – in their own living rooms or back bedrooms) for a good cause and have a laugh at the same time. If you are expecting glorious song and dance numbers, beautiful sets, glamorous costumes and amazing make-up then you will be left disappointed. Here you get a slightly awkward and at times cringeworthy production that appears to have been thrown together with 5 minutes notice. I know that comedy is so subjective and no doubt there will be one (or possibly two people) who love this for what it is but for us.... Sorry BBC, this missed the mark hugely and we can see why this has been tucked away on BBC2 and is not shinning bright on BBC1 for the festive period. I can already imagine the outcry of people reaching for a pen and paper to contact Points of View to express their disappointment.
I do wonder how many of you will make it through the full hour of this, maybe if you have had a few drinks or can't find the remote control then you might. Many people were left disappointed with the mini episodes of The Vicar of Dibley this year, another project by Richard Curtis who also worked on this programme, so keep your expectations around the same level, or maybe a little lower.
Quentin Blake has provided some fun illustrations which feature throughout and help tell the story. All this said, it is for charity and they deserve praise for that. You can donate at bbc.co.uk/comicrelief
Written by Andrew Dawson, Steve Dawson & Tim Inman
Based on an original script by Ben Crocker
Executive Producers: Richard Curtis, Matt Crook, Colin Hopkins
Script Supervisor: Bex Church
Directed by: Matt Lipsey
Starring Olivia Coleman, Helena Bonham Carter, Guz Khan, Anya Taylor-Joy, Rege-Jean Page, Jimmy Akingbola, Daisy May Cooper, Charlie Cooper, David Walliams, Tom Hollander, Aisling Bea, Tom Davis, Rosie Jones, Claire Foy, Alan Sugar, James Blunt, David Tennant, Hugh Bonneville and Mo Farah
LOST IN PANTOLAND - AN ONLINE CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE
Filmed at Motherwell Theatre (November 2020)
Production company: Starbright Entertainments
Created & Directed by Phil Norton
Visit the official website here
One thing is for certain, the Covid-19 pandemic has stirred up the imaginations and creative side to panto producers up and down the country as they think outside of the box to still bring some panto cheer into people's lives in new and exciting ways. Our story starts as Motherwell Theatre legend Ian 'Sheepie' Smith finds himself locked out of his beloved theatre amidst the Covid crisis but he soon gains entry and fires up the stage lights ready to deliver his panto to the masses, only there are no masses and he is faced with an empty auditorium but not an empty stage as he soon comes face to face with the evil King Rat and magical Fairy Liquid. Here you will also find characters from throughout the panto universe. Personally we enjoy our panto with a little more song and dance than you get here, there is some though so don't panic! but this is a different experience and one well worth having.
This panto is presented in the most unique and original way that will really involve you in the story. Think back to those fantasy adventure books from the 1990s, you know the ones, where you pick a path to follow and create your own story, this is a panto along those lines, you create how you view this tale by making your own choices along the way, for example will you opt to kick things off with the tale of Snow White or would you rather try waking Sleeping Beauty, will our hero travel by bus or be a bit more daring and ride a magic flying carpet, it's up to you here, you are in control.
Those that regularly frequent Motherwell for their annual panto will love this and will already be familiar with the cast. Panto up and down the country does vary, each area has it's own uniqueness and expectations and of course different accents and this is why people tend to prefer panto in their own local area, but this is fun and people from all over the country can enjoy this and get a glimpse of how panto is done in Motherwell. Well done team, you have managed to achieve something very special.
Starring Ian 'Sheepie' Smith, Jamie Bannerman, Louise Andree Douglas, Gary Morrison, Fraser Boyle, Holly Reynolds, Phil Norton, Max Fulham