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BrumHour saw Goldilocks and the Three Bears at the invite of Birmingham Hippodrome.
By Dave Massey twitter.com/BrumHour
This production contains infrequent uses of misogynistic language, adult jokes and buckets of COLD WATER!!
BrumPanto Review: Goldilocks and the Three Bears at Birmingham Hippodrome
Directed by Michael Harrison, written by Alan McHugh and Matt Slack
An evil circus owner, Count Ramsay of Erinsborough (Jason Donovan) comes to town, he’s not been visited by the animal welfare in quite some time as he has gained a reputation for treating his performing animals very poorly. Dame Betty Barnum (Andrew Ryan) owns the circus which is already in situ and her team, led by her son Ringo the Ringmaster (Matt Slack) and Goldilocks (Samantha Dorrance) are on the hunt for the new star of their circus. Candy Floss (Alexia McIntosh) thinks she fits the bill and then there is the Magical Mysterioso (Phil Hitchcock).
It’s been a very, very long 23 months since the Brum Panto was in town and it makes a very welcome return with this circus focused story. It steers clear of the regular panto stuff, no villagers, no dragons, no giants, no kissing, no kings, queens or princesses. Instead, we are presented with a spectacle, featuring lots of classic and modern songs, dance tracks plus some Broadway numbers, plus some seriously talented variety acts. As well as Phil Hitchcock with his sleight of hand magic, there is tightrope walking, trapeze artists The Gemini Sisters, diabolo (giant cotton reel) performer Pierre Marchand, and Peter Pavlov and the Globe of Speed, which is a motorcycle in a huge metal ball act.
There is a real sense of showmanship and heightened reality to this production from the costumes to the lighting and the music and the comedy.
You will probably notice there is only one reference to Goldilocks in that whole opening section. You see, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the children’s story, doesn’t actually have a lot to it.
This circus version features character introductions for each of the main performers and gives us a chance to see Jason Donovan playing the villain, he clearly loved this role and the audience seemed to feel a little guilty in their boos given this is his first-ever panto. He was fantastic, fun and silly; a good sport that allowed himself to be poked fun at.
Matt Slack had several songs all to himself, without any kids from the audience on the stage to chat to, there was extra time for Matt’s impressions and singing talent to be displayed and the audience loved him. We loved him even more for his genuine reassuring speech reminding us why panto is so valuable for introducing future generations to live theatre and performance. I’ve been seeing panto on and off at Birmingham Hippodrome since 1983!
The story blends the new with the familiar as local talent is on display in the form of West End star, Alexia McIntosh’s confident vocals as Candy Floss shine through at every moment she is on stage, her character was written especially for this production. Samantha Dorrance‘s Goldilocks holds her own with the mild chaos around her. So lovely to see local born talent doing so well on the national stage.
Self confessed “Lazy Cow” Doreen Tipton blurs the line between her lion tamer panto character and her comedy character throughout insisting on calling Matt Slack by his real name. Andrew Ryan’s dame outfits are stunning throughout as are his vocals and comedic timing.
The running time is two hours and twenty minutes including an interval, and the first half seemed to last about one hour and ten minutes. Strangely it feels like it flashed by in about two seconds and left me wanting more, more, more.
The BrumPanto makes a triumphant return to the Birmingham Hippodrome stage with Goldilocks and the Three Bears until 30th January 2022. Book tickets here: birminghamhippodrome.com/calendar/goldilocks