REVIEW: Littlehampton panto is a golden egg of a show

Some of the cast from Littlehampton Musical Comedy Society's latest panto
Some of the cast from Littlehampton Musical Comedy Society's latest panto

THE weather may have been frosty but the atmosphere inside the Windmill Entertainment Centre couldn’t have been warmer as the theatre welcomed Littlehampton Musical Comedy Society’s latest production, Mother Goose, to the stage.

It was the 53rd panto the society had staged – and what a spectacular show it was.

It was superb in every aspect, from the stunning costumes to the sets.

The show had all the ingredients to make it one of the best ever – slapstick, audience participation, jokes galore, and top-notch singing and dancing.

It was extremely well cast, with Jonathan Groves in the title role. He was a veritable tour de force, encompassing everything expected of a panto dame, and certainly had the figure for the dazzling array of costumes he wore; he’s Littlehampton’s answer to Lily Savage.

Playing his son, Billy Goose, was Alexei Hawkey, who has been with the society since the age of seven. He proved to be an all-round entertainer and a star of the future.

Talented singer and dancer Sophie Shepherd also impressed as Mother Goose’s daughter, Jill.

She is blessed with a strong voice and was at home singing both Love is an Open Door and Puttin’ on the Ritz.

Partnering Jill, in the role of Jack, was Luke Palmer, who really put his all into the number Thank God I’m Old – despite being just 22.

Kelly Manchee was delightful in her portrayal of the Good Fairy Virtue while her opposite number, the Bad Fairy Vanity, was greeted with boos and hisses on every entrance. Played by Charlotte Grimes, she looked every inch the evil fairy and shone in the number The Baddest and the Best.

Taking on the part of pantomime knockabout comics is never easy, but husband and wife duo, Mark and Ruth Roberts were hilarious and must have had great fun rehearsing at home.

Society stalwart, John Carroll, played the evil Sidney Snyde, and gave the audience a fine portrayal of pure nastiness, but raised plenty of applause as well in his duet of Chu-chi Face with Mother Goose.

An energetic chorus supported the principals and gave great renditions of songs both old and new.

The children captured everyone’s heart with charming and well-rehearsed routines, and the senior dancers were outstanding.

Congratulations must go to choreographer, Michelle Shepherd-Ede, for her innovative routines, ranging from rock and roll, to a memorable tap dancing number.

Also worthy of praise is musical director, Daniel Paine, and his hard-working musicians, Steve Powell, Simon Stewart, Paul Whiteside and Lawrence Trousdale-Smith. Janet Webb, who played Candy, the Goose, also excelled.

Director, Chris Blanchard-Cooper must be heartily congratulated on producing a fast-moving, memorable show, which was so professional it was hard to believe that everyone on stage was an amateur.