Wilton’s Music Hall
L - R Amelia Rose Morgan as Jill, Ian Jones as Willy Goose, Beatrice, Roy Hudd as Mother Goose & Ian Parkin as Squire in Mother Goose at Wilton's Music Hall
Writer – Roy Hudd
Director – Debbie Flitcroft
2nd – 31 Dec 2016
A Review by Mary Couzens for EXTRA! EXTRA!
Decking halls calls for holiday spirit and few things are more capable of infusing seasonal cheer than a good old Christmas Panto. Enter Roy Hudd and Company at Wilton’s Music Hall to spread enthusiasm, wit and sparkle!
Having enjoyed this company’s festive romp at Wilton’s Music Hall last year, I was already up for Mother Goose. No sooner had I comfortably settled into a (movable) seat down front, in the afterglow of footlights of yore in this former East End Music Hall, then a young fairy appeared onstage advising, in rhyme, that we were in for a treat. An upbeat medley of popular Carols followed, the company setting the mood in Dickensian dress. But, it was when Roy Hudd aka Mother Goose took to the boards in curlers, robust falsies and slip, murmuring asides between lines that the show really got underway! ‘We slip them in’ and ‘I warned you’ followed some of Hudd’s more topical and or obvious quips, political and otherwise. Though a certain amount of Christmas cracker humour is part and parcel with Pantos, in seasoned hands, as it is here, it almost becomes endearing, and shouting en masse, ‘Not it’s not,’ and ‘It’s behind you’, not just fun, but therapeutic, proving a healthy dose of laughter really is the best medicine!
Roy Hudd as Mother Goose in Mother Goose at Wilton's Music Hall
Music Hall expert/re-enactor Hudd is accompanied by some very able, consistently talented players, among them, baddies Ian Parkin aka Squire Stingy who doubles as the Spirit of Christmas in the opening medley and Vanity, brought to snarling, snake like life by Gareth Davies. With such able support to bounce off of, trooper Hudd is able to turn blips like forgotten lines into opportunities for hilarious ad-libbing, handily transforming potentially, rotten eggs into comedy gold! Baddies only being first alphabetically, Julia Stratton lights the stage and tickles the funny- bone with her canny timing as Virtue aka a Good Egg, the wryly philosophical fairy intent on saving the day. All A’s for enthusiasm, seeming spontaneity and chemistry in terms of acting, dance and singing to Amelia Rose Morgan as Jill and Ian Jones as counterpart Willy, Mother Goose’s son. And somehow, rather miraculously, given the enormity of her disguise, Maria Askew cannily blends notes of whimsy and pathos as Priscilla the Goose, sans words, recalling W. C. Fields warning about being upstaged by children and animals. The Villagers, played by a comparatively small group of winning singers and dancers manage, nonetheless, to people the imaginary town square on the stage with charm and grace, upping the ante for any youngsters in the house contemplating similar paths. Future auditioners would do right to nod appreciatively when CVs put before them in future boast this Mother Goose.
Gareth Davies as Vanity in Mother Goose at Wilton's Music Hall, photo credit Matt Crossick
Sets, designed by Mark Hinton and built by Watford Palace Theatre do the trick and then some with their rustically assembled houses, alternatingly animated snow fall and blue skies, comprising Mother Goose’s nursery rhyme inspired hometown. No show of this diversity and calibre would be possible without the aid of knowing musicians and/or sound artists and on this occasion, Tom Boyce on percussion and Tom Lawes more than fit the bill, swinging between toe tapping, lyrical and sultry with seeming ease, in conjunction with LX Operator’s Jake Hughes. Kicking up the rear only in terms of train of thought, simplicity bearing the artifice of true art is Steven Hardcastle’s choreography, moving between graceful ballet like numbers and full on ensemble hoofing a la Oliver! Not only does dancing drive a show, but it also steers viewers towards whatever emotive responses are needed. Costumes in this production are nearly as delightful as the performances themselves, so meticulously detailed and akin to their scenes and circumstances are they. Co-costume designer/supervisors Tony Priestly and Paula Patterson, presumably in conjunction with Hudd aka Mother Goose and the company are on top form here. Director Debbie Flitcroft handles this ham and egg combo with sensitivity, enabling its silver lining outlook to shine through.
L - R Ian Parkin, Steven Hardcastle, Delycia Belgrave, Laura Teahan, Helen Gulston, Terique Jarrett, Amelia Rose Morgan & The Egg Whites in Mother Goose
Sitting so close, I was able to better appreciate the work that goes into the staging of such a vigorous production, with dancers kicking and writhing full kilter, singers full throttle, beads of sweats glistening on foreheads. They’re on a mission, this team, and their goal is to see that each and every audience member has a rollicking good time!
This Mother Goose pairs Aesopian fable and smiley faced sing along with a smattering of fairy tale ethics and healthy dashes of grease paint and glitter. Magic wands aside, a warm, loving heart and generous spirit are what’s really required and cheerily reminding ourselves of that along with the players is good fun, as is clapping along with the appreciative audience at curtain! As Hudd warmly said at the show’s conclusion, ‘God Bless Us Everyone!’
Julia Sutton as Virtue and Maria Askew as Priscilla The Goose in Mother Goose at Wilton's Music Hall - credit Matt Crossick
2nd December to 31st December . 7pm evenings · 2pm matinees . Best for Ages 5+ · Running time 2hrs 20mins (including interval) £20-30 Full Price (£17.50-26 Concessions) · £17.50-26 Previews (£15-22 Preview Concessions)
Wilton’s Music Hall Box Office: 020 7702 2789
Wilton’s Music Hall Grace’s Alley London E1 8JB
Aldgate East, Tower Hill, Tower Gateway & Shadwell
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