Review - Pinoccio
NODA review - Loddon Players, Pinocchio (the Panto!), Loddon Church Hall, 14th Jan 2017
Directors; Vicky Coddling/Simon Peck, Choreographer; Vicky Codling, MD Sarah-Jane Lumley, Producer / Script; Steve Burton.
Always open with a "Wow" ..and here we had a real energetic ensemble song and dance number ending with an uncompromising well timed Trolley trick as Rosa (Maureen Larkin) ended up bottom first in a supermarket trolley!
Our two Fairies Blue (Ruth Dunning) and Pink (Pauline Mason) led us into the good versus evil with some natty rhymes as they confronted the Bad vibes of the nasty Griselda (Gina Buntock) who was keen to elicit our boos and hisses!
Now this story is not often linked with the pantomime genre and although this narration is necessary throughout it is also a trifle invasive and separate to the story, this needed careful scripting, which we have come to expect from Steve Burton, as the real villain of the piece is undoubtedly the dastardly scheming Stromboli (Christian Lovick) played with tremendous zeal and clearly a rival for arch "Baddy"!
His was a strong well delivered role continuing from last years successful debut as Pantomime Dame.
But, and with no apologies needed, as the irrepressible Dame to match all dames, and playing Nora Cricket, we welcome back (Anthony Bunting) "to the manor born", as he makes a grand entrance ... applauded by the audience ... totally as if he had never been away and complete with that lovely laconic Norfolk brogue and the OTT frocks and make up, plus the inevitable shopping trolley!
Not the biggest of "Dame" roles but one which showed his prowess as he works with the aforementioned Rosa (Maureen Larkin again!) also an essential ingredient in Loddon Panto and his "son" Jimmy Cricket (Graham Orpet) also "on the bench" as far as Loddon Dames are concerned.
This trio made a fine pair if ever I saw one!...with humour, double entendre and just enough local jokes to please the "home" audience!!
I would just have liked Jimmy to dress as an over grown schoolboy for the classroom sketch! But a small point as they continue to please their audiences each year!
Now, oh yes, the story .... most will know that the poor, and nicely portrayed as the understated carpenter, Geppetto (Peter Samain) craves a son and here we had a real star of the future as the Puppet of the title Pinocchio (Mia Cuskeran), who from her introduction, almost 10 mins totally static as the "boy puppet", was every inch the star of the show with dialogue, singing and dancing of the highest order.
He/she was totally believable and will be in the running for my NODA Young performer of the year for 2017 nominations.
She was outstanding and is one to watch. As is Lampwick (Poppy Collinson) who, as the cheeky and slightly bossy child kidnapped by Stromboli, also showed excellent stage presence and confidence as she works first with and then against the evil Stromboli.
We had more comedy moments from Dilly (Harry Browne) and Dally ( Shane Baxter) who were destined to receive the necessary custard pie in a well worked and short slapstick episode!
Figaro the cat with a great outfit and (C)attititude was well portrayed with her penchant for fish ... or any food (jointly played by Katie and Maddie Hamilton).
I was particularly pleased to see the integration in the whole panto of the "Funky Feet Dancers" and the ensemble including Panto Babes as they added so much more to the whole package with some outstanding routines and costumes and particularly in the Circus scene to end Act1.
They were brilliant and I am sure their involvement will continue as they are a highlight and bring much needed razzle dazzle to the show.
Excellent sets and thoughtful technicals, which included a well conceived and executed UV Undersea Scene, all added to the success of this entertaining panto
Review by: Terry Rymer (NODA Rep East Dist).