The Panto season comes to an end so let’s see how they faired and not pretend!

The panto season has now ended.
As we look ahead to an exciting and busy 2015, I reflect on an extraordinary season of panto-mania and look forward to the new era of Easter panto’s that have now taken over some of our theatres in a brilliant coup to attract the younger audiences into the world of theatre.

Comments from theatre goers these last few weeks have been more or less about not being able to get hold of tickets. The message here is ‘book early’ as the PR manager of the Floral Pavilion New Brighton stated “tickets have been on sale for nearly a year” and the same applies to the Everyman Theatre where lots of people were unable to claim a seat on the night of their choice.

On reflection, I started off as usual at the St Helens Theatre Royal with Jack and the Beanstalk, and my review a few weeks ago, says it all. Surprisingly, a few nights later, we were sitting in the Epstein Theatre next to Kurtis Stacey from Emmerdale who was playing Jack at the Theatre Royal. Kurtis, I’m sure, was watching muscle man Dan Osborne in his brilliant role as Jack in the Epsteins rip-rawing version of Jack and the Beanstalk which bore no resemblance to the St Helens version. Suzanne Collins might I add, played the wicked Flesh Creep and made an excellent Joan Collins look-alike!

A few days later it was New Brighton’s Floral Pavilion for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This was a spectacular family pantomime with superb, memorable singing from Wicked Queen, Coronation Streets Kelly,Tupele-Dorgu. The Seven Dwarfs certainly surprised the audience with a parade onto the stage from the back of the stalls. Good-heavens!…..small people clambouring onto the stage. These were indeed real dwarfs much to the surprise of the little people around me who had never experienced this.

Next we boogied down to the Everyman for the rock ‘n’ roll panto, Little Red Riding Hood which gave us plenty of non stop excitement, singing and showers. The talented cast showed off their combined musical, singing and acting skills as usual…Well Done! Guaranteed a night to remember with this production.

Amidst all this, a jaunt to the Unity Theatre surprised us all with the traditional tale of Rumplestiltskin. This classic fairy tale brought to life the imagination and captivated the family with a show filled with song, dance and audience participation fun! Action Transport Theatre gave us a performance of quality and at £8 a ticket a good two hours entertainment value.

For the adults there was a bonus treat with another year showing the Dave Kirby’s, Barry White Christmas play at the Echo Arena. Back by popular demand and a full audience on the night I attended. I was surprised by the full audience with theatre goers around me laughing just before the punch lines having experienced the whole show before. A showing next year may well see a trend here.

Overall, productions made us laugh and gave us all a great sense of well-being at the end of an exhaustive and busy year. What was noticeable was the deriviation of the storylines, some of which just had a hint of the traditional story.
One young reviewer told me that, out of all the performances in Merseyside, Rumplestiltskin was the best. Clear, concise, good and evil in battle, with an hypnotic magical beat of unusual songs to hum on the way home.

Me, well, nothing beats the Everyman’s Laughing Gnome ….”Ha ha he…he he he… I’m the Laughing Gnome and you can’t catch me.”

It would be great to have a Theatre Night like Light Night, with free entrance or half price tickets for one night of theatre entertainment. Revenue in the city would surely be generated from the many eateries and this would certainly be a crowd puller.

If you are already planning your culture diary for 2015, then take the advice of the promoters and book your performances early for the best times and prices.

Take a look on-line at some of the fantastic shows coming up with the Easter panto’s at the Epstein and St Helens Royal or even, at other venues such as the Knowsley Leisure and Culture Park. Knowsley have the children’s show ‘Milkshake’ ‘Wind in the Willows’ and ‘American Wrestling’ to name a few. This last show is back by popular demand. The wrestlers provide two hours of non-stop entertainment for all the family. There’s even a chance to meet some of the superstars and get your photo taken next to these wrestling giants. Kids love this night out!. Tickets are a sell-out. This venue, is local, has massive free parking, and good entertainment that reaches the people!!!!! It would be rewarding if the inner city theatre establishments ship a few productions to Bootle and use the parks, sports centres and hidden theatre space there for the local populace to experience a culture at a fraction of the price. That way, Culture in the city will begin a rebalance, as statistics show a real trend towards a particular, regular theatregoer that ain’t from Norris Green, Speke, ……
At a recent Juletide, event some of the aged residents had never been to a play in Liverpool so I decided to do a good deed and book them in at my expense! My good deed for the year.
Finally, a big thank you goes to all the theatres for still supporting the Liverpool Culture Champions, our word goes far and wide.

Don’t miss Faulty Towers at the Floral and book a seat at the funniest restaurant in town.

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