The biggest little panto in the land.
The Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond is this year playing host to Rapunzel, a modern twist on a classic tale and it is an absolute hoot.
Written by Nick O’Connor (who also plays the dame Desiree Spud) this version of Rapunzel is packed full of traditional panto feels but with the unmistakable charm of a ‘Georgian’ production.
For those less familiar with the Theatre Royal In Richmond, it was built in 1788 (oh yes it was) and boasts the oldest scenery and one of the most unique theatre experiences in the world. The audience are seated in a ‘pit’ and 2 levels of gallery, meaning no one is ever more than 10 meters from the action. Intimate, engaging, and for this panto, immersive, this is a wonderful way to enjoy the madness and mayhem of this brilliant, traditional pantomime. The Front of House team, led by manager Paul Gilpin, will ensure you don’t get lost through the quirky and charming layout and the house bar, complete with a great selection, will provide plenty of refreshments needed after lots of laughing.
A panto tradition at the Georgian is of ‘knitted items’ and in particular the throwing of such at the cast (at a specific part in the show) – fear not, you don’t have to bring your own, they are provided by fans of the theatre from all round the world – this year there were carrots that came all the way from Australia and a whole sack full knitted by the ladies of Hambleton Community Action.
Why carrots ? Well, some panto’s have a laundrette, others have a pie stall and some even have a cake shop but I’ll wager none have a vegetarian café diner. This belongs to the aforementioned Nick O’Connor as Desiree Spud who has found that her veg have rather unique properties, not that Ms Spud is too bothered for she is still lamenting the loss of her daughter Rapunzel (Rebecca Huish – as pretty a panto princess as there ever was) who was snatched by the twisted Mother Gothel (Paige Rochelle – deliciously wicked with the best evil laugh).
Desiree’s friend Jimmy ‘Prince’ Charming (Marcus Jones – loveable cheeky rogue with impeccable comic timing) is on the run from Detective Febreeze (Nigel Fyfe – making his debut at the Georgian Theatre Royal) but with his help, and by roping in the detective too, she intends to find and recover her daughter. Aided by her regular customers (who for this night were the super talented song & dance extraordinaires Dan, Lydia, Lucy, Martha and Tallulah-River) we are treated to the whole gamut of panto tropes, all delivered with masses of fun, plenty of laughs, death defying stunts, Tunnocks teacakes (!) and no small amount of Cher.
There are plenty of local references prompting knowing nods amongst the audience and, with everyone so close to the stage, there are lots of opportunities to really get involved. Being so close to the stage also means you also get to see the cast up close and what is very evident is just how much fun they are all having. Song and dance, jokes and madcap routines are aplenty, all ending in a much deserved standing ovation.
If you want to step back in time for your festive fun then look no further than Rapunzel at the Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond – the biggest (and best) little panto in the land.
Rapunzel runs until January 7th. For dates, times and tickets see www.georgiantheatreroyal.co.uk