Review: Robin Hood & the Babes in the Wood

City Varieties Music Hall’s annual pantomime played to a warming family orientated audience. This year’s show, Robin Hood & the Babes in the Wood proved to be a show for audiences of all ages. Set to a catchy rock and roll soundtrack with songs such as ‘The Hippy Hippy Shake’ and ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours’, this pantomime showcased some true talent in this cast of quadruple threats who sang, acted, danced and played musical instruments throughout in this highly energetic and fun performance. Their talent, and enthusiasm, made Robin Hood & the Babes in the Wood a performance worth tapping along to.

As the cast grandly entered the auditorium before the show’s opening, the audience were immediately thrown into the world of interaction. Matthew Burns boomed on to the stage in a range of roles, performing with high levels of energy and warming up the audience well. With clarity and eye-catching characterisation, Burns’ energy was enough to entertain both children and their parents. This year’s dame, Eamonn Fleming did a fine job as Nanny Nellie Nightnurse, balancing a level of humour that managed to both entertain the children and tickle the adults through its tongue-in-cheek approach.

Robin Hood & the Babes in the Wood enticed its audience without wasting their attention. Clocking in at 2 hours and 40 minutes, the show’s pace never drops and its structure is well supported by a balance of action and song. In fact, it is through its music where this pantomime shines. When cast members weren’t acting, they formed part of a live band with many playing a variety of instruments. Duets from the likes of Robin Hood (Peter Manchester) and Maid Marian (Liz Singleton) shone with show-stopping energy, particularly through numbers such as ‘I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That), a memorable and original performance which paid homage to Meatloaf.

Of course it goes without saying that pantomimes are known for their dames and cheesy audience interactions. City Varieties’ latest panto certainly adhered to these expectations and its climax was met when a range of inflatable boulders barged from the upper circle to the stage using the audience to pass the balls through. This gave even more energy to the show and made sure that no audience member left without engaging in some form of interaction.

Robin Hood & the Babes in the Wood lived up to the expectation of the pantomime yet also created its own edge through the highly energetic performances of the ensemble. With impressive and relentless switches between characters and constant changes through acting and singing, the entire show never dipped, making sure that families and audience members of all ages will enjoy the show in some form or another. Although pantomimes are perceived as cheesy fun, this particular show will bring out the child within even the most reluctant of adults.

Robin Hood & the Babes in the Wood runs until Sunday 10th January 2016 at City Varieties Music Hall.

Mark McDougall

Image: Tony O’Connell

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