Proper panto at the heart of the community
Theatre review by Henry Ascoli
Puss in Boots, by Winton Players, Petersfield Festival Hall
Winton Players’ irrepressible spirit shines through in this veritable feast of family entertainment – an all singing, all dancing, fun-filled panto at Petersfield’s Festival Hall.
This is the tale of Jack and Jill’s cat ‘Puss’. When the nasty ogre Grimgrab threatens to take over the village and marry the Princess Esmerelda, good fairy Priscilla steps in and sells Jack some magic boots for Puss, which transform him into a talking cat.
It’s up to Puss to help his master defeat Grimgrab and win the Princess’ hand in marriage against all odds…
The dual role of Puss falls to Lorna Hibberd (mime) and Jocelyn Massie, both of whom capture the character’s fierce bravery and vibrant spirit.
Amy Perkins, in her second Winton Players panto, rises to the challenge in a passionate performance as Principal Boy Jack, while Emily Rees captures the innocent charm of Princess Esmerelda.
The lively Fairy Priscilla (Pat Wettone) uses all her magic powers to fight off the devious Fairy Pernicia (Cindy Graves) and villainous Grimgrab the Ogre (David Blackmore).
Phill Humphries and Joff Lacey form a hilarious double act as the calamitous brothers Jasper and Jethro, desperate to get their hands on the gold by any means possible, and in so doing neglecting the attentions of would-be lovers Babs (Tara Taylor) and Betty (Natasha Gwilliam).
Ryan Watts revels in the role of Bobbie the Royal Page, making the most of every opportunity for audience interaction, while George Stephenson played the stuttering King Wally.
Roger Wettone, in his sixth appearance as a Winton Players dame, immerses himself in the role of the overbearing Queen Wendy – complete with an array of dazzling costumes – with plenty of hilarious moments along the way.
In a performance bursting with energy throughout, the highlight has to be the three ‘thug’ rabbits – Mr Cheekycottonbottom, Mr Fluffy and Mr Wigglenose (Ed Sheehan, Wayne Pinhorn and Jonathan Cole) – relentlessly racing through the aisles to track down Jasper and Jethro. After all, what panto would be complete without the thrill of the chase?
As ever, the meticulously-designed sets and superb live musical accompaniment contribute to the lively atmosphere of the occasion.
Hats off to director Angie Blackford for leading another successful production from this tireless local company.
Family entertainment at its traditional best, and a proper panto at the heart of the community.
‘Puss in Boots’ plays at Petersfield Festival Hall on Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd January, 6pm (Saturday matinee at 1pm). To buy tickets, go to the Tourist Information Centre in Petersfield, call 01730 268829, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit wintonplayers.org.uk