Here they are! Well done to the cast and crew! Runs until 5 January 2013
Photo by Bill Mackellar
Published on Wednesday 5 December 2012 12:00
It’s refreshing to see that while many of the bigger budget pantomime companies have grown somewhat jaded over the years, smaller theatres are making up for it with a great deal of hard work. And Puss in Boots is no exception.
The story is a simple one, based on the famous fairytale, in which the town of Musselburgh is held to ransom by a wicked witch. Princess Fiona (Kim Shepherd) is determined to find a hero to save the day, a task in which she is aided by a magical Puss in Boots.
There’s clever writing, and equally clever choreography. There are catchy tunes, some good voices and some appalling jokes. It all adds up to a great little production.
Writer Philip Meeks and director Tim Licata have produced something that meets all the criteria of a fun-packed pantomime, while Francis Gallop adds clever staging and a set design that works incredibly well.
Although Act Two dips a little at the start, all the members of the cast apply themselves fully to push this hi-energy production along at break-neck speed.
Casting is spot on. The kids took simpleton Rory (Ross Allan) to their hearts. And as for Rumbletum; where did they manage to find a real ogre? Wysteria the witch (Isabella Jarrett) has just the right amount of presence and evil intent to produce enthusiastic boos and hisses, while the amazing Kim Shepherd has a voice that belongs on a bigger stage. So, everything is there in terms of production, sound and talent. But, more importantly, silliness and fun is high on the agenda, along with plenty opportunity for younger members of the audience to shout things at those onstage.
Run ends January 5.
Published Thursday 6 December 2012 at 16:41 by Thom Dibdin
Tim Licata keeps it local, current and very much on traditional Scottish lines as he takes over the director’s chair at the Brunton for his pantomime debut. He has a great script by Philip Meeks to work with, giving him a plethora of the oldest jokes and strongest routines to work with.
The only real space for improvement lies in the pace. Stephen Docherty is overly laconic as Dame Doris Dimple, particularly in her opening monologue and, although the “behind you” routine works, it could still improve. That said Docherty skims the outrageous double entendres in with perfect timing – to leave the adults gasping while the kids are still thrilling to the proper sweetie shower.
Ross Allan is a great panto pal as Doris’ daft son Rory with his puppet cat Puss, while Gavin Paul is suitably aloof as handsome son Jamie, the love interest who falls in full sloppy love with Kim Shepherd’s brilliant, strong Princess Fiona. Shepherd makes the songs zing – particularly those with juicily transformed lyrics.
Isabella Jarrett has plenty to get her vileness around as Wicked Witch Wysteria, holding Musselburgh to ransom unless she can marry Tom Freeman’s feckless King McMuckletts. A production which punches well above its weight.
THE PUBLIC REVIEW
by Val Baskott
Writer: Phillip Meeks
Director: Tim Licata
Musical Director: Morgan Carberry
Choreographer: Rhian Reynold
No Christmas season is complete without a good traditional pantomime and Musselburgh’s Brunton Theatre is the place to go for your annual fix. Bringing joy to babes in arms and grannies alike, this production of Puss in Boots does what it says on the tin and does it well. It’s a great way to end a busy year for the Brunton. Upstairs the enlightened East Lothian Council has transformed the vast space to create another auditorium and multi-purpose venue, promising an even larger programme of events in 2013.
Well-known locally for their Christmas spectaculars, the Brunton team have given a truly Musselburgh makeover to Puss in Boots without diminishing its general appeal. Francis Gallop’s whimsical set and backdrops highlight familiar local landmarks just right for the period, and include a startlingly Dutch windmill straight off a Delft plate.
Muselburgh (sic) is being held to ransom by the wicked witch Wysteria (Isabella Jarrett). Using her son, the Ogre, Rumbletum (Scott Glynn) to terrorise the town, she’s keen to reinforce her failing magic by forcefully marrying the good King McMuckletts (Tom Freeman). He’s preoccupied with a liking for tattie scones, baked by the gorgeous Dame Doris Dimple (Stephen Docherty). Princess Fiona (Kim Shepherd) is on the case, searching in vain for a hero, an Honest Lad, to save the day. The Dame’s sons, handsome Jamie (Gavin Paul) and daft Rory (Ross Allan) just don’t seem quite the types for the job. Of course all is not lost, bad magic has a habit of backfiring and Puss in Boots arrives to help and empower, ably assisted by The Clan of Incredible Cats.
It’s a skilled job delivering a good panto, and director Tim Licata has marshalled his troupe well. There’s just the right blend of song and dance with a good bit of slapstick humour – carefully seasoned with lightly flavoured innuendo and even a hidden moral. Add to a young well-drilled chorus and crew of experienced actors who can work the audience and you’re there.
Jarrett’s Wysteria schemes and rampages, a scary storybook wicked witch determined to win in spite of her failing magic, railing against her rival Dame Doris. Docherty’s Dame is near perfection, surely the slenderest in the business and what a dancer in those heels. His comic timing is brilliant and the double entendres are neatly understated. As for heroes and princesses, Paul and Allan comically bicker and make up quite like real brothers with lots of cheery slapstick. Shepherd is a joy to hear singing and she gives her Princess lots of common sense even if she does have to marry the Honest Lad in the end. Top marks to Carberry and Reynolds for sparkling song and dance routines which shine through this piece, and add to the overall jollity.
Be prepared to do all the things you should at a pantomime and have a great evening. Well done, Brunton, but where did Dame Doris get those fabulous rainbow tights?