CUADC/Footlights Panto 2014: The Emperor's New Clothes

Wed 26th November – Sat 6th December 2014

reviews

Elizabeth Crowdy

at 17:20 on 28th Nov 2014

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Having seen the CUADS/Footlights pantomime last year, my anticipation for ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ was running high. With many familiar names in the cast from other successful ADC productions, the likelihood of a poor performance was low, and it lived up to and exceeded these expectations.

The visuals were a triumph. The scene changes were slick and the lighting was good throughout, with well-timed spotlights creating comic moments by themselves. The props were multitudinous and exaggerated, adding comic punctuation rather than distracting from the action. The ink machine was particularly mesmerising, with small mushroom shaped clouds occasionally distracting my attention from the audience participation.

Considering the choice of ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’, costumes were of particular interest. The tights and tunics created a perfect pantomime atmosphere, with a set of stockings and suspenders concealed beneath Sam Rayner’s cassock providing an entertaining development. Every dress that Zak Ghazi-Torbati donned as the dame was fabulous; the Christmas tree dress a particular highlight.

The cast were excellent without exception in this production. Mark Milligan’s facial expressions were consistently hilarious, and Ayden Grietriek made a wonderfully spoiled and fashion conscious Wilf. The dame was beautifully overblown, and Georgie Henley achieved a good balance between sickening and loveable as Mathilda, with her Narnia jokes going down well. The whole cast were charismatic as individuals, yet effective as a chorus in the ensemble numbers.

One of the best parts of this production was the inclusion of the gloriously random character of Joshan Chana's owl. It was odd, but a hilarious, slightly psychedelic addition to the plot, inviting the audience to embrace the often bizarre humour of Footlights, which they did with enthusiasm in the forest creatures song.

However, this production was by no means perfect. Sound fell significantly short of expectations. Putting microphones on the entire cast was ambitious, and the first half was scattered with moments where the singing was either too loud, or could not compete with the brass instruments in the band. The lack of balancing created some truly painful moments; the song in Rudolph Murder’s writing department being a low point. However, most of this was resolved in the second half, giving hope that these issues will not arise in the coming performances. Audiences can also look forward to a brilliant live band: led by a jauntily clad jester/conductor, they propelled the pantomime with skill and class.

Though there were teething issues which need resolving to make this pantomime run a success, but the hilarity of the writing paired with a strong cast made the whole experience highly enjoyable. It will no doubt become even more so as the production gathers festive momentum.

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Andrew McMahon

at 15:59 on 20th Jan 2015

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The Christmas season is upon us and that can only mean one thing: a new CUADC/Footlights Pantomime at the ADC... and this year's will not fail to amuse. From the start the jokes start coming- nearly as quickly as innuendos come from the mouth of Flo Inkwell, this year's dame. These jokes greatly improved scenery changes and had all but the most hardened laughing in their seats. These jokes were tasteful, didn't feel too forced and were all said without any corpsing by any of the cast- difficult seeing the quality of the jokes and the timings of the cast.

The musical elements of the play were particularly strong, with a gifted cast singing about a range of songs; from an animal chorus to morning glory. The score, performed live, fit the scenes well, although seemed to produce difficulties for the sound technicians who for the majority of the first half struggled to balance the music and speaking elements so that they were audible but not deafening.

The set was well used and looked impressive but at times made scene transitions longer than desirable. Props were well-used, effective and (in the case of the clothes) numerous. They enhanced the audience experience, added to visual comedy and (with one exception) weren't distracting from the scene taking place on stage. A casual clothes malfunction towards the end of the performance only made everything more enjoyable with only a small amount of on stage laughter.

Audience-cast interaction, as with any good pantomime, needed little prompting and didn't feel too scripted. There were plenty of “awww” moments which had even quieter audience members joining in.

All-in-all, this was a polished performance of a well written take on the classic British pantomime. If you only make one trip to the ADC during the festive season, this would be a good choice.

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