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Looking Back: The timeless appeal of panto is captured by delightful Babes

By Wells Journal  |  Posted: December 07, 2013

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Now that December is here, those of a theatrical inclination cast aside Hamlet, put down Chekhov and discard Wilde.

In their place are Cinderella, Peter Pan and in the case of this week's Looking Back – Babes in the Wood.

Twenty-three years ago our reviewer went along to the Little Theatre in Wells to get into the festive spirit.

They wrote: Wells Operatic Society's panto Babes In The Wood – now showing at the Little Theatre – is a real treat for children.

Bright sets, lavish costumes, good singing and plenty of jokes brought applause – and plenty of audience participation – during the first night on Monday.

The tale of how the Sheriff of Nottingham's plot to kill his small nephew and niece is thwarted by Robin Hood and his merry men is updated with references to the poll tax and local events in Paul Reakes' script.

Directed and choreographed by John and Val Turner, music is by Leonard Graves.

All performances were very good. Peter Hole and Ivor Baulch as the sheriff's henchmen, drew a specially loud cheer from youngsters.

Babes Kieron Redford, aged 12 – playing opposite his father – and Ellen Brunt, aged 11, turned in faultless performances.

So did the young dancers Jessica McGruber, Louise Barnes, Richard Kerton, Andrew Thompston, Rachel Cohen and Lily Bell.

Paul Reakes as nurse Nit Wit was a delight and Fergus Redford had tremendous presence as the sheriff.

Many of the audience must have shared my eight-year-old's reaction: "Can I see it again next year?"

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