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

Guess what - he’s still behind you


Richcott Productions

Sutton Coldfield Town Hall


IF YOU are someone who complains at Christmas starting earlier every year with festive TV ads now appearing in October then you might also be grumbling over the fact that the pantomime season seems to be lasting longer than ever too, with some productions going on to the end of Feb.

However this production by Richard Aucott sneaks in just in time to keep the memory of the season’s festivities alive.

Hiss and boo: Nick Snowden on his own little boos cruise as the evil Abanaza

Mr Aucott is no stranger to the Panto format and unlike other companies who annually try to find some new ingredient, the company here sticks successfully to the `he’s behind you formulae ‘. Even if the groan a minute gags would be passed over by any decent Christmas cracker joke writer, the production makes up for it with its excellent performances, great singing and musical arrangements and a costume collection to rival any major budget production.

Richard takes on the formidable task of the Panto Dame, here as Widow Twankey, and does so dressed in an assortment of outrageous costumes that he has mostly created himself. There were a couple of instances where the script ran off the rails and the ad libs struggled to deliver but there was enough content throughout in his colourful performance to keep everyone happy.

Aladdin was played by Alex Cardall and clearly has a great understanding of musical theatre and with an excellent singing voice and professional performance kept the whole production ticking over.

Princess Jasmine played by Gemma –Jayne Freeth also proved she had an excellent voice, enjoying some well-produced duets with Aladdin. Behind the scenes Gemma also worked with Keith Summers to produce the pre-recorded music and sound effects, all of very high quality and all under the direction of Musical Director Frances Richmond.

Wishy Washy played by Andy James Michel was feisty and lively enough to keep everyone entertained in the traditional audience participation every time he appeared. The evil Abanaza or was it Banana, played by Nick          growled and sneered through the show collecting his boos along the way.

Aimee Whatson gazes into the crystal future as The Spirit of the Ring

Aimee Whatson as The Spirit of the Ring had clearly brought her own support as a large cheer went up each time she appeared and grewarded them with a credible performance and sang really well.

Adding to the cast were David Bligh and Mark Natrass not forgetting the youngsters Charlie Flockhart, Harvey Quinn and Sydney Richmond –Ward all who gave confident performances.

Add to the mix the choreography of Laura Hughes and dancers Body Beat, some great lighting and scene changes and you have a production that easily made you forget that January is nearly over and the on-going rain outside.

The company clearly have a lot of talent on hand and with a better script will definitely be the one to look out for next year. If however you still have the post-Christmas blues there’s still one more day left to revel in some seasonal sprit. To 19-01-14.

Jeff Grant 

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