Cinderella

Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

When it comes to festive family fun you can always rely on Regal Entertainments to deliver the goods. There’s no expense is spared in this year’s panto, giving us not one but two stars of Britain’s Got Talent (three including Chuck), Corrie’s Kimberley Hart-Simpson and St Helen’s panto favourite Lewis Devine. Add to this a fabulous Prince Charming in the form of Joe Sleight, a magical Fairy Godmother played by Rachael Wood and two glorious ugly sisters, Kristopher Bosch and Richard Aucott and you’ve certainly got all the ingredients for a whole heap of fun.

This glittering production is everything you’d want from a panto from lavish sets to elaborate costumes, Cinderella ticks every box. The witty script is littered with local references, stuffed with silliness and there’s even a TikTok dance thrown into the mix. There’s audience participation a-go-go as well as a perfect mix of much-loved chart hits from recent No.1’s to musical theatre favourites.

Kimberley Hart-Simpson makes for a wonderful Cinderella, she’s extremely likeable with great comic timing and a superb singing voice. Lewis Devine is brilliant fun as Buttons, the two of them have some fantastic scenes together made even funnier with the addition of love rival Prince Charming (Joe Sleight) thrown into the mix. All three seriously impress on the vocal front and are clearly loving every manic minute on stage.

Britain’s Got Talent stars Jon Courtenay, Jamie Leahay and Chuck are used to great effect both as characters within the storyline then entertainers at the palace ball where both are given the opportunity to let their talent shine. The ugly sisters Borisina (Richard Aucott) and Trussiana (Kristopher Bosch) are wicked fun with some of the best pantomime dame costumes I’ve ever seen.

Director Chantelle Nolan has thrown in some really magical moments which are greeted with gasps of delight, plus of course some mischievous surprises to keep us on our toes. Choreographer Nazene Langfield has gifted both the adult and juvenile dancers with some beautiful routines which lift the already sparkling ensemble scenes. Special mention must go to Lewis Devine, Jon Courtenay and Rachael Wood who somehow manage to get through a hilariously chaotic 12 Days of Christmas, a real highlight of the show and exactly what panto is all about.

This is a real family friendly show, suitable for all ages with plenty to keep little ones engaged as well as the cheeky gags us older theatre goers like to listen out for. The final transformation scene is as special and as sparkly as it gets, giving us the happy ending we’d all hoped for. If you’re in need of some Christmas cheer then get yourself down to St Helens Theatre Royal where they’re dishing it out daily!

Cinderella is on at St Helens Theatre Royal until Sunday 8th January tickets available here.

Goldilocks and The Three Bears

Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

St Helens Theatre Royal and Regal Entertainments Ltd have a great reputation for putting on brilliant Pantomimes, and boy do they rise to the challenge this Christmas!

There’s aerial acrobatics, fire jugglers and even some super soakers in this high energy, fantastically funny, festive offering. The stellar cast features several much-loved Theatre Royal regulars as well as Hollyoaks hunk David Tag as The Ringmaster and the wonderful David Phipps-Davis as Dame Gertie.

Regal Entertainments Ltd add a little more meat to the bones of this classic fairytale as Goldilocks (Olivia Sloyan) finds herself at the centre of a fight to save the Three Bears as well as her beloved Big Top from the hands of evil Baron Von Vippemall (Timothy Lucas). With a sprinkling of romance, a dash of peril, a fabulously flamboyant Dame and a delightfully daft Silly Billy (Scott Gallagher), Goldilocks and The Three Bears has all the ingredients for a perfect Panto.

The script is jam-packed with hilarious gags while the opportunity to shout, cheer and join in with the fun begins almost immediately. Scott Gallagher ramps up the humour as the hilarious Silly Billy, this is his third consecutive Christmas appearance at the Theatre Royal and the audience absolutely love him. He engages both adults and children alike while his timely quips about Downing Street parties are ingenious.

Theatre Royal favourite Timothy Lucas most recently seen as hero of the hour Jack, in Jack and The Beanstalk is superb as dastardly villain Baron Von Vippemall. He’s clearly loving every minute of this role; teasing and taunting the audience to brilliant effect. His versatility as an actor providing laugh out loud moments throughout, it’s always a joy to see him perform.

Hunky ringmaster David Tag impresses vocally while Olivia Sloyan shines as Goldilocks, the duo make for a perfect pairing. David Phipps-Davis brings the flamboyance as Dame Gertie with some of the most spectacular costumes and wigs I’ve ever seen while his powerful voice takes the ensemble numbers to the next level.

Nazene Langfield’s choreography is delivered with precision by the cast and Senior Dancers while Regal Entertainments Ltd’s glittering set and sumptuous costumes add to the sparkle of this festive piece.

We don’t see some of the usual songs/sketches associated with Panto however they aren’t missed as tongue twisters and sweet throwing replace them, keeping the pace quick and the exuberance high.

Regal Entertainments Ltd have delivered an absolute Christmas cracker this year, you’d struggle to find a better quality, funnier show at a more reasonable price for all the family to enjoy. Little ones were mesmerised while there’s plenty of cheeky jokes for the adults to knowingly giggle along with.

Goldilocks and The Three Bears is fabulous, family fun, seeing the joy on children’s faces in the theatre truly cementing the importance of live theatre. If you’re struggling to find your Christmas cheer then look no further and get yourself down to St Helens Theatre Royal, this dazzling production will leave you feeling merry and bright. Another smash-hit for Regal Entertainments Ltd with my mini reviewers asking can we watch it again before we’d even left our seats! A magical, hilarious, and brilliantly entertaining production from start to finish.

Goldilocks and The Three Bears is on at St Helens Theatre Royal until 9th January tickets available here.

Sleeping Beauty

Reviewed by Kate Goerner

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Theatre Royal in St Helens and Regal Entertainments continues with its welcome tradition of producing pantomines outside of the festive season with Sleeping Beauty for the October Half Term.

A much-loved tale of beautiful princess Aurora cursed to prick her finger on a spinning wheel by evil fairy Carabosse and sleep for a hundred years is brought to life by a hard-working cast – with all the requisite panto elements like glitter, songs and bags of audience participation.

Familiar faces in the cast include St Helens resident dame Si Foster. With a ‘You Hoo’ he is a good humoured figure who the audience clearly has real affection for.

As always Foster has great rapport with comic Lewis Devine (Chester the Jester) – a now familiar face in Theatre Royal pantos a clear audience favourite. His scene with the children from the audience on stage was as funny as you’d hope.

Samantha Palin is an impressive baddie Carabosse – striding about the stage and delivering some one-liners as wicked as her character. Clearly having bags of fun being the baddie, she almost made you root for Team Carabosse!

Mia Molloy and James Lacey play it straight as Love’s Young Dream Aurora and The Prince, both bringing like ability and great vocals to the stage.

Making up the principle cast is Warren Donnelly as The King and Abigail Middleton as Fairy Sparkle, who got to enjoy the spotlight at the end of of Act 1 with a powerhouse rendition of When You Believe.

A good panto in my eyes is one where I spend quite a bit of the show watching my little boy’s reaction to the on-stage action! And he was fully immersed in this show – booing, cheering, singing and laughing. His favourite bit? The “rude” nursery rhymes had him and the other young audience members in hysterics.

It’s a cheerful, crowd pleasing affair performed and received with warmth. And as ever the ticket prices are commendably affordable – starting at just £13.

Up next for Christmas at the Theatre Royal is Aladdin starring Strictly professional dancer Robin Windsor – we are looking forward to it already.

Just one cautionary note for parents of younger children – you can no longer borrow free booster seats at the theatre – instead having to purchase an inflatable one (which you get to take away with you) for £5 – a cost which could add up for larger groups. Just something to perhaps consider when deciding where to sit if you are with younger children and don’t want to shell out for a seat.

Sleeping Beauty is on at the St Helens Theatre Royal until Saturday 29th October. Tickets available here.