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5 stars for Billy The Kid at Rosemary Branch Theatre

Billy The Kid Panto Rosemary Branch Theatre
Billy the Kid! Left to right John Savournin as Nelly, Nichola Jolley as Pocabeaver, Amy J Payne as Sheriff Ranger, Matthew Kellett at Billy, Bruce Graham as Mumford and Joanna Marie Skillett as Buckaroo Dan
Photo Bill Knight

This year the Charles Court Opera presents their eighth musical pantomime at The Rosemary Branch Theatre and it is the panto to see for Christmas 2014. A wonderful blend of genres, this Western style comic opera is just chock full of hootin’, tootin’ ace-high larks!

The story sees Billy the Kid (a young goat) played by the heart winning Matthew Kellett, and his owner, Buckaroo Dan, embark on a Western adventure to find the hidden treasure which will save Dan from imminent eviction from his ranch. They are aided by the Native-American-in-distress Pocabeaver, played by Nichola Jolley, who is Dan’s inevitable love interest. She is also the slave of the satisfyingly evil, love-to-hate villain Mumford, played by Bruce Graham. Their ally is the endearingly unlucky-in-love Sherriff embodied by Amy J Payne.  Along the way they get additional help from Chief Raging Hormone and a gang of coyotes who shamelessly show off the choral talents of this vastly qualified cast and musical team.

The show ticks every panto box with lots of chortle inducing twists; the pantomime horse is now a bison (replete with workable udders) and if you sit on the front row you might be required to milk it; you may well end up with a cream pie on your head and you will sing yourself hoarse in an uproarious singing competition. The treasure of the show for me was the fantastically inflated, naughtily scandalous Dame, played by John Savournin – and boy do you just want to keep on watching him?!

The music – live and on stage – is a genius reworking of film soundtracks, party classics and even a wonderfully revamped worship song – for which all credit must surely go to MD David Eaton and drums and percussionist Dave Jennings. The cast of six literally spill over the edges of the Rosemary Branch and into the audience. It’s invigorating and you can’t help but respond energetically to this vibrant production joining in all the traditional panto capers – prepare to be swept along even if you’re not used to riding bareback. Although they would more than hold their own in a larger venue it is thrilling to be in the midst of such all-encompassing vigour – I felt like I was at this year’s biggest and best Christmas party. Yee-ha cowboy, go, go go!

5 Star Rating

Review by Annemarie Hiscott

Charles Court Opera in association with Rosemary Branch Theatre presents Billy the Kid A Panto Western

Mosey on down to The Rosey B Ranch for Charles Court’s eighth rip snortin’, whip crackin’, bar brawlin’ panto – a legendary part of North London’s Christmas, known throughout the land as The Fastest Draw in the East for old timers right down to l’il chickadees.

The cast features regular  CCO hellraisers including Nichola Jolley, Matthew Kellett, Amy J Payne and Joanna Marie Skillett, musical director David Eaton on the Old Joanna and director John Savournin as a Calamity Dame…

Rosemary Branch Theatre
28th November 2014 – 10th January 2015


  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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