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 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Corn Exchange - Puss in Boots

4th December 2009 to 3rd January 2010.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Purr-fect start to the season

Corn Exchange puts on the cat's whiskers of a pantomime in Puss in Boots

Puss in Boots, at the Corn Exchange, Newbury, until January 3

It's that time of year again - "oh yes it is" - when panto comes to Newbury, and once again the Corn Exchange and Hiss and Boo have produced an absolute cracker of a show in Phil Willmott's Puss in Boots. In fact it is the 'purr-fect' start to the Christmas season's entertainment.

This show was real family fun with something for everyone. There was oodles of audience participation, a talented energetic cast, a witty script with loads of local references, some wonderfully 'awful' jokes and exceedingly high production standards.

This was a traditional panto with all the magical elements of theatre - special effects, pyrotechnics, slapstick, stunning costumes, inventive choreography (Lizzi Gee) and a vibrant musical score by musical director Leigh Thompson.

Adam Brown was splendid as Harvey Nicks, the Royal Herald, who narrated the story He had an excellent rapport with the audience and a wonderful sense of comic tuning. In this version of Puss in Boots tthe cat, Banderos, was Spanish; an athletic convincing performance by Joseph Wicks.

The audience were invited to celebrate the birthday of Princess Clara, sensitively played by Joanna Woodward, who had an outstanding singing voice. She fell in love with Tom Cobbly our hero the cobbler, strongly played by Tom Oakley who quickly won the hearts of the audience.

Things were not going well at the palace and Queen Gertrude was very much down at heel and in need of money. Ian Mowat was an absolute joy to watch as Gertrude. Here was the consummate panto 'dame' with the most magnificent and many costume changes, who simply was the 'star' of the show working with the audience with complete confidence and ease. Bravo.

Every panto needs a fairy godmother and Clare Plested gave a sparkling performance as the overworked Fairy Thatcham, who had so many pantos to look after. Her interaction with the audience was awesome.

Mathew Grace was a terrific village bumpkin and as Chef du Jour, Paddy Crawley brought a lively touch of French slapstick comedy.

This was the 'cat's whiskers' of a production. Tickets are selling fast so book soon.

Highly recommended, don't miss it.