Goldilocks and the Three Bears stretches back to the mid-nineteenth century, but St Helens Theatre Royal gives us a modern take on this magical fairy tale with a circus twist.
The Regal Entertainments’ pantomime provides a mix of madcap comedy capers and unbelievable circus tricks. Starring David Tag as The Ringmaster and Olivia Sloyan as Goldilocks, the pair bedazzled the audience with their love story.
David is renowned for starring in Channel 4’s Hollyoaks. For his first pantomime, he certainly deserved the applause as he reached impeccable high notes when it was his time to shine in the songs.
This was a The Greatest Showman meets panto with the typical rendition of “Oh no you’re not! Oh yes I am!” with a circus mix of talented fire performers, aerial dancers and speciality acts that take the breath away.
The audience could sing and dance along to the well-known hits of Dancing In The Street and Saturday Night’s Alright.
If one element stands out, it’s David Phipps Davis’s role as Dame Gertie. Known for appearing in pantos for almost 20 years and directing over 50 productions of pantos, plays, musicals and operas, his experience was certainly reflected in his performance as he brought the show to life.
Dame Gertie managed to steal the spotlight in a series of incredible outfits, and witty one-liners as she claims the look of love is the same as the way in which she looks at the doughnuts in Greggs (me, too!).
The Dame presents an extravagantly-dressed spectacle, but the real sparkle isn’t so much in sequins in her final outfit as it is in the dazzling performer.
The titular bears – Daddy Bear played by Harry Moore, Mummy Bear by Chantal Amber Rose and Baby Bear by Jenna Sian O’Hara– don’t actually show up until almost half an hour into the performance. Goldilocks’s cottage infiltration, porridge-eating and napping are completed within a few minutes.
Nevertheless, not everyone visits pantos for the plot, as we all know the story from our childhood. So writer Reece Sibbald takes a different approach to the fairy-tale and turns it into something suitable for all ages.
Baby Bear Jenna also features as the circus aerial artist who mesmerised the audience. This was not clear until after the show, as she hid under the big bear outfit and face paint keeping her in disguise from children, and even the adults!
We also meet Silly Billy, played by scriptwriter and director Scott Gallagher. We are delighted with the presence of Scott in what he called his ‘Mr Tumble’ inspired attire, as he fired Haribos and Curly Wurlys into the audience with a tennis bat, leaving children more hyped up with a sugar rush than parents probably intended.
He had a joke in almost every line, leaving us almost with cracked ribs from laughter.
In the final bag of treats he had prepared to throw at the children, he pulled out a water gun. His trusty sidekicks – the six dancers executing Nazene Langfield’s choreography tremendously well – ran down the side of the audience and squirted us all with more water guns.
Those sitting on the end got a nice shot in the face. I didn’t have a child to protect me from being soaked in my seat, just a trusty pamphlet.
The echoes and chants of ‘Silly Billy’ in the auditorium could be heard even an hour after I returned home. Scott managed to push it just that bit further with his cheeky innuendos and mischievous jokes that float over the kids heads yet make the adults fall about laughing.
The plot sees the gang protect the bears from the new rival circus owner in town, Baron Von Vippemall, played by the whip-cracking Timothy Lucas.
He fully deserved the boos as he tells the children, in his attempt at a German accent which hides his scouse twang, how he would mistreat their pets. We were even treated to a Scottish accent.
As an actor, the Liverpool-born and bred star deserved a round of applause for his work on the stage, even if he is the villain and will feature in the nightmares of children for weeks.
If there was ever a new performance of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Timothy is perfect to play ‘The Child Catcher’. Kids across the seats could be seen leaping onto their parent’s laps and covering their eyes with their hands.
The (almost) last word should go to four-year-old Thomas who won the hearts of the audience and joined the cast on stage to sing Old MacDonald Had A Farm, and won a copy of Scott Gallagher’s new book, Bart The Lonely Fart.
With a run time of just over two hours, the pantomime managed to jam-pack entertainment yet didn’t feel too rushed.
Goldilocks is an eye-popping extravaganza show that will make you laugh until your sides hurt and is a must-see for all, regardless of age!
Star rating (Out of Five):
Goldilocks And The Three Bears runs at St Helens Theatre Royal until January 9. Roll up and grab your tickets here.