REVIEW: Lively panto performers have fun with rock ’n’ roll tunes and classic routines

Picture by Stephen Candy Photography
Picture by Stephen Candy Photography

Robin Hood and His Merry Women, COS Musical Theatre, The Hawth Studio, Crawley, until January 18

Christmas has long gone but the panto season isn’t quite finished yet with a few societies still offering their yearly dose of songs, slapstick and silliness.

Picture by Stephen Candy Photography

Picture by Stephen Candy Photography

COS Musical Theatre’s Robin Hood and His Merry Women is at The Hawth, Crawley, until Sunday, January 18, and provides enough to keep the young ones entertained.

Robin’s back from the Crusades only to find that his land and the local children have been captured by the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham on behalf of the selfish Prince John. The simple plot, which makes room for plenty of classic panto routines (‘It’s behind you!’) and rock ’n’ roll tunes (‘The Boys Are Back in Town’), sees Robin and his sidekick Much team up with the women of Nottingham to get their kids back.

The Hawth’s studio is a small space for panto and the songs are sung at a lower volume than they would be in a theatre, but the spirited performers, especially the younger ones, inject a lot of energy into the tightly choreographed dance routines.

Kevin Wort and Anika Lefevre give the show’s best singing performances as Robin Hood and Maid Marian. Kevin, who made his debut with COS in South Pacific, seems at home on stage, giving a charming performance and casually delivering some crafty double entendres just for the adults.

Glen Cowlard is enjoyable as the sidekick Much, an overgrown kid who obviously gets the best reaction from youngsters, especially when he invites a group onstage to take part in the fun.

Robert Carpenter puts on a boisterous display as the show’s rather gruff Dame, Sister Tuck, while Colin Barnes hams it up a treat as the rotten Sheriff. The villain’s attempt to woo Maid Marian with an oversized fake moustache is delightfully absurd.

Surprisingly, Adrian Locke’s Prince John doesn’t seem that evil and it’s difficult to boo an adversary who’s more of a spoiled brat than a criminal mastermind. He’s pretty funny though and Adrian looks like he’s having a whale of a time with his laughably effete, drawling baddie.

As expected, the best moments of this panto involve more traditional elements. The ‘If I Were Not Upon The Stage’ routine rarely fails to get a laugh and the version presented here has the audience in hysterics as soon as the shaving foam pies are used.

COS Musical Theatre’s next shows will be Pirates of Penzance, May 2015, and Hairspray, October 2015. To get involved visit www.cosmusicaltheatre.com or the group’s Facebook page.