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KATS - Five Gold Rings

19th to 21st February 2004.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Cast of thousands

KATS: Five Gold Rings, at Kennet School, Thatcham, from Thursday, February 19 to Saturday, February 21

Just when we thought we'd seen the last of Christmas, it's panto time again! This year the Kennet Amateur Theatrical Society chose Five Gold Rings, written and produced by society member Mike Brook.

It was a highly entertaining script with lively characters, based on The Twelve Days of Christmas. The quest to find the five gold rings took some wacky and confusing twists and turns - from the Wild West to the Bat Cave, complete with Lloyd Grossman and Batman and Robin, but no matter, it was entertainment all the way.

Director Janet Kilgallon-Brook had a huge cast at her disposal - I counted nearly 70 adults and children in the programme - a daunting challenge. But they were in good hands, everything ran really smoothly the adult and children's chorus were enthusiastic, the principals gave their all and kept up the pace of the production. There were many varied and lively musical numbers choreographed by Claire Bowden and Mandy Cole, filling the stage with colour and movement.

A massive principal list makes it difficult to mention everyone, but particular mention must go to Mandy Cole as the splendidly-feathered Fairy French Hen (with 'Allo 'Allo accent), Mike Cole as the deliciously dastardly Frostbite and Andy Pocock who gave good value as Dame Partridge. Two particularly high-powered performances were delivered by Jon Lovell as Tom the Piper's Son, with very good visual comedy, and Claire Bowden as Greta Goosebumps, who was a delight from start to finish.

Strong performances too from Jemma Evans as Danny the Drummer Boy, Joanne Dunwell as Melinda Milkmaid, Siouxsie Ashmore as Georgy Goosebumps and Mark Lillycrop as Swanny Schwimmer. Then there was Prince Truelove — an Elvis clone from the Vegas years, but hey, I must I stop, as there were many so many other principals supporting the action admirably.

Music was provided by Martin Eggleton, piano, and Gerry Dooley, drums, and other accompaniment was provided by backing tracks and recorded music. There were uneasy transitions from live to recorded music, and perhaps the use of keyboards instead of piano would have been more cohesive.

The costumes were effective and very colourful, the scenery attractive and the lighting and effects creative and well cued. Despite a short power failure a few minutes into the first act, the cast coped brilliantly.

In all, it was a very good production to look at and was well-received by the enthusiastic first night audience. With the final loudspeaker announcement 'Prince Truelove has left the building', we emerged, giggling into the cold night.