THE BEST yardstick for judging how good a panto is not how good the singing is or how outrageous the costumes are but how loudly the child seated next to you screams.
That takes nothing away from the quality of ‘Puss in Boots’ by Bruce James Productions at the Webster Memorial Theatre, because scream and shout and sing their little hearts out they did!
The sets are first-rate, with quite a range of scenery, from magic wishing pool to mill all the way to a dank witch’s castle.
As with every good panto, there is plenty of rollicking music with 15 numbers sung by the cast ranging from the Black Eyed Peas to a clever little mash-up of ‘Keep young and beautiful’ and ‘Bootylicious’ sung by Dame Doris Dimple.
The singing was matched by the acting, Edward Reid’s first foray into ‘damery’ was classic, and his mobility in high heels worrisome. His signature tune of nursery rhymes to the Leona Lewis version of ‘Run’ was very well done, and no doubt long-awaited by his fans.
The other panto staple, the wicked witch Wisteria, played by Donna Hazelton is scary and sassy in equal measure, and her rendition of Nancy Sinatra’s ‘These boots are made for walkin’ was excellent.
Donald the Daftie and the titular Puss are played with manic energy by Gordon Brandie who has exactly the kind of infectious energy to get a crowd going.
River City actor Gary Lamont returned this year as Hamish Dimple, the slightly less inept brother to Donald, who charms his way across the stage and is not above taking a few digs at his own expense.
Hamish is joined in many of his songs by Princess Heather, AKA Pamela Byrne, his River City colleague, and the pair make for a great duet with a nice line in ‘will-they, won’t they’ tomfoolery.
King Juan is brought to life by Graeme Waggot of Tay AM, and his regal countenance does not slip once, not even when chatting up the dame!
The dancing was nicely split, with professional dancers adding some technical flair and local youngsters boosting the cuteness factor while also being very competent dancers themselves.
On a final note, the return to falling about the stage like an old episode of Star Trek, the massive voice of the ogre Rumbletum and the pyrotechnics were all great – just don’t look at that flashbangs! JR