ROBIN HOOD AND THE BABES IN THE WOOD by People's Theatre Company.
Nottingham Arts Theatre.
What a lovely sight to see, a theatre almost packed and what great entertainment was provided by The People's Theatre Company, Written and directed by Amanda Hall, this script is not only very funny, topical and regional but also very camp, which, let's face it, is what panto is all about, and it was great to see everyone in the cast embracing the "campness".
The evil Sheriff of Nottingham (Mike Newbold) has decided to kill the babes to get his hands on the money that he would inherit from their death but it's Robin Hood, played by PTC newcomer Sean Goodwin, who saves the day and gets to marry the lovely Maid Marian (Ellie Monterossa) into the bargain and they all live happily ever after.
Sean manages to bring out the arrogant in Hood but, due to Sean's good looks, the ladies fall under Hood's spell and he makes for a wonderful hero who does not take himself too seriously, especially when singing "Men In Tights" with his merry men.Sean also sorted out the fight choreography as well!
Adam Monk plays Will Scarlet, one of the merry men who, again is not afraid to ramp up the camp, and Peter Newman, like Adam, always looks like he is having a ball on stage which helps everyone watching enjoy the performance, like some kind of osmosis, Peter plays Little John who also gets his girl in Lady Catherine (Catherine Cunningham).
I know that I was not the only one who appreciated the evilness of The Sheriff, as played with true evil delight by Mike and he really got the audience boo-ing, along with his slightly less evil henchmen "Muck" and "Rake" played by Christine Boothe and Danielle Hall respectively, both getting the crowd to boo as well as laugh at their escapades.
Mike Pearson dons a frock or two this year as Nurse Goodbody and as always a big crowd pleaser with whatever role he undertakes. I am surprised that this is his first time in high heels and dresses as he makes a really good dame. Watch out Gavin Alston.
Oh and then there is the lovely Laura Thurman as "Silly Billy", who while being one of the main characters, seems to have been omitted from the programme. I know that Laura is so passionate about panto and theatre, and this really shows with her boundless enthusiasm within every role I have seen her perform.
Keeping the story going throughout and spreading her fairy dust is Sophie Petruccio as our fairy narrator, always a welcome addition to any production.
There are no "sore thumbs" here and it would take me forever to praise all the cast but I feel I must mention one more, and that is little Ruben Lawlor-Leckie who played one of the babes, River. Such confidence for one so young, a joy to watch.
Sound wise you could hear absolutely everyone and everything, great lighting and visual effects, pyrotechnics, smoke, the whole lot thrown in here, matching the professionalism of any panto in Nottingham this year.
There is a great mix of tunes from the Morecambe and Wise signature tune, "Bring Me Sunshine" to musical hits like "For Good" from "Wicked" and the song of the panto 2014/2015 period, Pharrell Williams' "Happy". This being in all three pantos this year. And I must not forget the amazing work Jessica Royce has done with the choreography. With that amount of cast on stage, I imagine that this was no easy job.
All pantos have upped their gain this year and the overall feel of the People's Theatre Company panto is that it is even more slicker, smoother and pacier than last year.
Another massive hit for Amanda and all of her crew and actors, and if you want to see what really goes into producing a panto of this impeccable quality, watch BBC4 on Monday 22 December 2014 at 9,25pm and watch "Pantomime" which goes behind the scenes of the People's Theatre Company panto of 2012.
"Robin Hood and The Babes In The Wood" is on at the Nottingham Arts Theatre until Sunday 21 December 2014