KATS - Panto Rules, OK!
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KATS - Panto Rules, OK!

16th to 18 February 2012.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Game for a laugh

KATS: Panto Rules OK!, at Kennet School, Thatcham, from Thursday, February 16 to Saturday, February 18

With a blend of traditional and modern elements, director John Hicks' original script was a cleverly-devised concept and provided a terrific storyline that was great entertainment for the whole family.

Set in Gameland, the Gamesmaster (Lee Battersby) ruled over a happy band of games; from traditional field and board, to computer ones, all effectively depicted in ingenious costumes and snazzy T-shirts.

Wicked casino owner Roulette was convinced that games of chance were better than games of skill, so devised a plan to steal the magical Book of Rules so that she could gain power. That done, in fantastic Mission Impossible style, it only remained for the 'goodies' to get it back into the safe hands of the Gamesmaster.

Nick Saunders as Dame Solitaire had a good rapport with the audience and kept the action moving and Pam Hicks as Roulette and Kim Jakubiszyn as Baccarat worked well together, giving us unequal measure of evil and wacky humour.

There was a great characterisation from David Richardson as Blackjack, and Craig Stafford as Bingo gave a delightful comedy performance. Rob Conway (Ludo) and Ellie Maskell (Lottie) both gave impressive performances and their duet, Somebody to Love - complete with gospel choir - was terrific with impressive solo vocals. Many other well-drawn characters ably supported the action, giving plenty of opportunity for the large cast.

The lively musical numbers - solo, duet, ensemble and dance routines, all pop (and rock) - added gloss, and Claire Bowden's and Beth Hicks’ excellent choreography lifted the show to another level. Cheerleaders, showgirls, line dancers... it was packed with variety and well-delivered with lots of smiles from the adult chorus, delightful dancers and junior chorus.

The technical aspects were excellent - the heist in particular, with the break in to the vault and exploding safe was funny and brilliant.

The dialogue was a bit sticky in places, but in all, high production values and a dedicated cast ensured we all had a truly enjoyable experience.

Congratulations to the writer/director and his team for an original and creative show.

TREVOR DOBSON