Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

three bears

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Hall Green Little Theatre


If ever a panto hit its target audience with a bullseye this is it, so much so that at times it was not so much audience participation as cast participation.

This was an audience of youngsters not prepared to take any nonsense from the hardworking cast on stage who must have felt a little like Christians in the Coliseum in ancient Rome at times.

At one point as the goodies are outfoxed by the pirate baddies the circus clown Joey Wizzbang makes a plaintive plea to the audience: “Why didn’t you tell us?” only for a rather loud and indignant young voice down the front to point out with some force: “We did tell you!”

While as Goldilocks was trying the three bowls of porridge in the three bear’s house she was helpfully told the that baby bear’s bowl would be neither too hot nor too cold – which would have saved some time if only Goldilocks had listened.

We could also have saved a lot of time if the cast had taken the audience advice not to drink poison, or followed their information as to where the pirates where or the bears had gone – the cast just would not listen – or perhaps they had been deafened of course. A small theatre full of excited, small children having the time of their lives at a panto probably reaches the same decibel level as a Jumbo jet at take-off.

goldie cast

Warming up in rehearsal, Richard Scott, Lauren Rote, Amanda Nickless, Katherin Williams and Jon Richardson watching Matt Ludlam.

Pictures: Roy Palmer

But, after almost two years with Hall Green dark, back to Goldilocks where the late Birmingham born panto writer John Morley has added a circus to the traditional tale, which takes Hall Green regular Jon Richardson out of his comfort zone once more and into the frocks of damehood as circus owner Sadie Sparkle, full of one liners, some of which were probably originally told in Latin back in the old Coliseum, and puns that would break a groanometer. As they say, there is nothing like a dame.

And every circus needs a clown, so enter Joey Wizzbang, and Matt Ludlam, another Hall Green stalwart, could always find an opening as a children’s entertainer after a sparklingly daft performance.

His “how’s yer father” entrances had a screamed “all right” response that could probably have been heard in Worcester and beyond.

Then we had Amanda Nickless as Goldilocks, in her first appearance at Hall Green after appearing in productions at Derby Theatre.

She had the unenviable task of being, well, fairly normal amid the mayhem, and pulled it off with the kids warming to her as the heroine of the tale. There was even a little romance, well a hint at least, between Goldie and Ronnie the Ringmaster, played, principal boy style by Lauren Rote.

Ronnie, of course, manages to wrestle Excalibur from the stone, to lead the fight against the baddies, which is another bit that that old Goldilocks fairy tale missed out.

And what is panto without the said baddy and his cohorts, and bad as they come is whip-wielding Benjamin Black, rival circus owner, who is cruel to animals, including people, and, lurking under the ghoulish make-up, Richard Scott delights in winding up the audience, who, in turn delight in booing and hurling abuse.


Director Daniel Beaton, script in hand.

When it comes to nastiness, including killing baby bear (loud awes there please) he finds it as easy as beathing, or sneering in his case. And as his backup he has his pirates – you must remember the pirates in Goldilocks, surely – led by Pedro Twoface who seems to come from that part of Naples they call Swansea from the accent. He looks the part and swashbuckles with aplomb.

Before the RSPCA could get involved in the case of bear poisoning, Belinda, the circus’s new bareback rider and unofficial resident fairy, who can only speak in rhyme, every line, all the time, but that’s fine . . . (enough! Ed.) played by Katherine Williams, brings baby bear back from the dead with water from a magic pool which, luckily, appears to be just round the corner from the theatre.

The three bears are the latest and greatest act at the circus and although we never actually saw the performancet which made them the hottest ticket in town, it must have been good though as some critic or other, Roger Clarke I think they said, had given them five stars, apparently, or so we were told.

There was Steve Brear as Daddy Bear, who gave us the old Eric Morcambe paper bag trick, baby bear, Molly Scott, with a touch of dancing and Mommy Bear, Charlotte Crowe who we discovered had a sweet voice, and was also responsible for choreography.

Filling out the numbers of circus folks and pirate crew was a lively ensemble including members of the youth theatre, and a mention here for the stylish costumes from the team of seven backstage along with make up from students at University College Birmingham.

Another familiar face, this time in the background, Richard Woodward composed the music while Daniel Beaton, who we first saw in youth theatre many moons ago, has taken the reins as director to keep everything on track.

As pantos go this is one aimed firmly and unashamedly at the younger market – think Cbeebies and CBBC level – which is why Hall Green panto has become a traditional Christmas treat for many a local cub and brownie group. It is not sophisticated or witty, but simply daft, silly fun and children of all ages in the audience lapped it up, cheering, booing, shouting, laughing and enjoying every minute – and who can argue against that. To 12-12-21.

Roger Clarke


Home Reviews A-Z Reviews by affiliate