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PANTO REVIEW: Robin Hood at the Queen’s Theatre in Barnstaple

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: December 18, 2012

  • Photographs by Andy Robinson from J&A Cameras + Photography www.jandacameras.co.uk

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Rosanna Rothery sees Robin Hood at the Queen’s Theatre:

ROBIN Hood may be the beau with a bow, but it’s his larynx that he uses to lampoon his love in this year’s panto. A fine falsetto along with a fighting spirit wins over that feisty first lady of the forest Maid Marian.

Yes you will be pleased to hear that when it comes to romantic ballads, Robin (Aston Dobson) is somewhat skilled at the swashbuckling serenade.

His duets with Maid Marian (Laura Main), who also has a delectable voice, prove him to be a dashing daredevil with a delightful line in descants.

There’s little doubt that the impeccable musical theatre background of this year’s director, Kenn Oldfield, has brought harmony to the Forest in more ways than one. Singalong songs (think Bruno Mars’ Just The Way You Are, One Direction’s Live While We’re Young and Miley Cyrus’ The Climb) certainly hit the right note with kids, although there’s plenty of other rousing numbers alongside a scattering of suitably attractive medieval-sounding strains.

It’s probably best to think of this year’s show as more of a musical adventure than a typical panto story, with messy slapstick and chases giving way to a motley crew of merry men serving up swordplay and bow-and-arrow action. Rest assured, though, there’s enough behind yous etc to get all the family involved.

How great to see panto stalwart Jon Wadey finally step out in a leading role and playing the archer’s arch enemy, the Sheriff of Nottingham. As ever this talented physical actor plays a beguiling baddie, with spot-on comic timing and a roguish twinkle in his eye.

A somewhat loose storyline which sees Maid Marian repeatedly thrown into caves and dungeons, means it’s left to the Forest Fairy (played by Lisa Hanson) to use her down-to-earth charisma (think of Corrie’s Janice Battersby after swallowing a charm pill) to bring an end to the Sheriff’s evil shenanigans. Meanwhile, cross dressing fun comes from Friar Tuck (Richard Alan) who forgoes his frumpy daytime frock to disguise himself as a flamboyant femme fatale in a series of suitably gaudy gowns.

Local young dancers and singers in this year’s show help to provide a beaming chorus of various background characters. Congratulations to them for working seamlessly with the professionals in this action adventure panto which zips along at a fine pace.

The junior company are:

Tunics: Hannah Wells, Lotti Calvert, Stephanie Coats, Finn McAuley, Jack Williams, Stephen Ball, Darcy Baldock, Abi Calvert, Ellie Councell.

Tights: Meg Lovering, Meg Williams, Laura Imeson, Zebby Meredith, Ollie Imeson, Oliver Ivan, Molly Gooch, Mica Evans, Darcey Field.

The panto runs at the Queen’s Theatre, Barnstaple until Saturday, January 5. Box office: 01271 324242.

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