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KATS - Babes in the Wood, Revisited

21st to 23rd February 2008.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

KATS' cradle of comedy

Pantomime makes for a good evening of family entertainment

KATS: Babes in the Wood Revisited, at Trinity School, Newbury from Thursday, February 21 to Saturday, February 23

Just when you thought that panto was a distant memory, along comes another, but Kennet Amateur Theatrical Society (KATS) proved that there's no reason why pantomime shouldn't be played outside the Christmas season.

Mark and Jenny Lillycrop co-wrote and directed this interpretation of the popular Babes in the Wood panto that was bursting with all the right ingredients.

After a slightly long overture, the show came to life in Flora Dora's toyshop with a colourful set, excellent costumes and a well-directed, busy stage setting the standard for the evening.

Dame Steve Lovell as Flora Dora looked the part, although at first he seemed a little tense, he finally relaxed to play well with Nick Prince as Prof X Perry Mental (Boff).

Obviously, no panto is complete without the dastardly deeds of a villain, and Pam Wood as Ruth grasped the challenge full-on, often encouraging what was a rather sleepy audience.

Together with her henchmen Bert and Gert (Hayley Shrestha and Katie Haythornthwaite), the three worked well together, producing some great comedy. Ruth and her gang made off with Boff's prize toy, Robbie the Robot (played by Rhys Swan) after some excellent robotic dancing, prompting the well-acted toys to rise up and make chase, closely followed by the Babes - an animated performance from Carrie Marsh as April May and Gemma Cole a bubbly Simon.

Tagging along was Sean Blake, the hapless Billy, whose soft tenor voice contrasted nicely in duet with Gert.

The chase scene utilised an excellent video presentation, filmed across most of Newbury, which proved a highlight of the evening.

Packing in as much as possible, every effort was made to entertain, but there were occasions when the pace would have been more dynamic with shorter items.

That said, valuable contributions from the junior chorus added to the pantomime's punch, particularly in a Barbie Girl number.

The evening certainly appealed to the younger audience, and out of my three children the youngest, Caitlyn (aged four), was most taken by the spectacle.

The hard work of all involved in this production was evident and made for a good evening of family fun.