Review - Rapunzel, Centre Stage Company, Haverhill Arts Centre until January 30

Centre Stage Company present Rapunzel. Photos: Andy Mayes / Idyllic Imagery

Centre Stage Company present Rapunzel. Photos: Andy Mayes / Idyllic Imagery - Credit: Archant

An enchanting storybook backdrop, a pair of comical guards and more than a dash of smut, the perfect recipe for a family night out.

Centre Stage Company present Rapunzel. Photos: Andy Mayes / Idyllic Imagery

Centre Stage Company present Rapunzel. Photos: Andy Mayes / Idyllic Imagery - Credit: Archant

The talented cast and crew of Centre Stage Company may be amateurs, but you wouldn’t know it from this panto production.

The backdrop was the first thing that caught our attention, a giant storybook with moving pages, one for each location within the play. A clever way to avoid clattering scene movements and a great space-saving technique, giving over more of the stage to the entertaining performers.

Each of the pages had been thoughtfully designed with the right amount of detail and even the turning of the pages was executed with dramatic effect.

The story of Rapunzel has been thrust back into the limelight thanks to Disney’s interpretation, Tangled, making this a clever choice for the company.

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The audience, largely made of pupils from New Cangle Primary when we went along last night, knew the story well, avoiding the need to dwell too much on the premise of the panto

Instead, the cast launched straight in, giving us an early insight into the delights that were in store for the 200-strong audience packed into the lovingly-restored Haverhill Arts Centre.

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Before she had even sung a note (which she did with great talent), had pirouetted across stage (yes, a talented ballet dancer too), Rapunzel and her fairy-lit hair had won their hearts.

The actress, Victoria Harvey, played the role with a delicate note, bringing a sense of seriousness to the spectacle, a new depth that was unexpected in a panto.

One scene, midway through, saw three actresses take on the role of Rapunzel at the different stages of her life, each singing a solo.

Her yearning for normality was very raw and each of the Rapunzels, Harvey, Cecilia Snell and the youngest, Ava Herd, showed real skill in portraying this.

Ava, though, stood out with her strong voice, a talent to watch out for in the future.

However, for me, it was the guards, Head and Shoulders, played by Steve Marsh and Nick Selin, who stole the show.

They bounced off one another in a completely natural way, like two best friends who had, quite literally, spent the past 17 years or so living in one another’s pockets.

They were given some of the best lines of the show, from slightly risque jokes to one liners that pushed risque to the limit, but they moved on fast enough that the youngsters amongst us failed to notice.

Mention must also go to Denise Harriss for her convincing performance as the evil Mother Gothel, she slipped into this role like it was made for her, delivering her lines in an effortless fashion making us believe she really was as evil as the character (I am sure she isn’t!).

The live band took the production up a notch, creating a professional feel, intensifying the drama and bringing the contemporary sound track to life. A worthy addition to a faultless production.

In a clever twist, the Dame, played by Nick Keeble who manages the arts centre, played on the fact the majority of the children were from the same school and sang a ditty about one of their teachers, Mr Clinch, making them feel involved in the plot and raising more than a few giggles.

Take a trip to the kindgdom of Babyliss (another hair line for you), you will not be disappointed.

Seats are still available for next weekend’s performances. See here for more details

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