Society: Centre Stage Company, Haverhill
Director & Choreographer: Steven Ridpath
Assistant Director & Choreographer: Becca Neal
Musical Director: Brid McKee
Venue: Haverhill Arts Centre
Date of Review: Saturday 28th January 2012

From the up-beat music that the four-piece band struck up for the opening number, this was a full-on, exhilarating performance by the Centre Stagers predominantly youthful cast for their 12th Pantomime season. This talented amateur group had written the script for their version of “Mother Goose”; and this was a directorial debut for Steven Ridpath.

The set design by Jim Morgan had been kept deliberately simple, with minimal props, giving greater emphasis to the actors and their own interpretation of their pantomime characters. The lighting and excellent sound effects helped to create the right atmosphere and contrasts of good and evil to the various scenes. There was a mixture of costumes; some authentic pantomime-style ones, whilst others put together using modern-day fashion items.

The script had been carefully crafted, with deliberate ad-libs and stage “directions” included for two of the key characters, the comic duo of “Darling” (Denise Clayden) and “Poppet” (Becca Neal). With their faultless patter and timing, these very talented young comediennes had the appreciative Saturday matinee audience in the palms of their hands and their energy and enthusiasm did much to enhance the overall performance. In addition, Becca Neal as Assistant Director and Co-Choreographer, ensured that the whole cast gave polished performances of the musical dance numbers that interspersed the action.

There was just the right balance of comedy and musical numbers in this pantomime, with suitable choice of popular songs that the various characters accomplished well, with the support and good direction from Musical Director, Brid McKee on keyboard, with Adam and Roger Chinery providing guitars and Ray Pawley on percussion.

The cast were well rehearsed and confident – good characterisation by young Noah Russ-Brown as the “Demon King”, with his nemesis, the “Fairy Queen”, confidently played by young Tasmin Kerslake. Use of a muppet-style puppet “Patsy” (controlled by Laura Bacon) as companion to Mother Goose’s son “Jack”, well-played by Emma Letcher, was a refreshing innovation. Steven Roach gave a good performance as “Mother Goose”, with plenty of comic inter-action with Andy Lether as “Squire Peg”. Megan Priestley as Mother Goose’s daughter “Jill” and Billie Allen as “Gerard”, son of Squire Peg provided the romance in the story. With other supporting roles by Annabella Green as “Priscilla the Goose”, Rowan Brittan as “Kingfisher”, Cian Harriss and Nick Selin as “Young Darling” and “Young Poppet”, all played their part in giving an enjoyable performance. Thank you, Centre Stage, for a fun afternoon!