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Goldilocks and the Three Bears at Richmond Theatre

Richmond Theatre’s Goldilocks and the Three Bears is a magical panto extravaganza. Dame Betty Barnum’s circus is struggling to survive, and with the evil Countess Von Vinklebottom lurking around kidnapping the animals, it can only go from bad to worse. After trying to rescue a stolen honeypot with the last of their savings, the characters find themselves in the Bears’ cottage in the woods, eating their porridge, breaking their chairs, and even falling asleep on their springy beds (which all happens in a 3-minute re-write of Donna Summer’s ‘Hot Stuff’!). They quickly make friends with the bears and find that Baby Bear has a secret tap-dancing talent, which might just save the day. Their plan falls to pieces though when Vinklebottom kidnaps her. The group must defeat Vinklebottom to get her back, whilst trying to save the circus from going under.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Photo credit Craig Sugden.I’d always wondered what Goldilocks looks like as a panto, never having seen one before. There isn’t much plot to fill two hours, but Richmond manages it with a fabulous variety show. Matt Baker is the celebrity casting at the centre of it all, and he’s really rather brilliant as Joey the Clown, especially with his very impressive high-wire act. Tamara Morgan shows off her vocals as Goldilocks, Jessica Martin is wonderfully terrifying as the evil Countess (with her giant whip!), and Phil Walker’s cheeky chappy Ringo the Ringmaster really knows how to work the audience with a quickfire of one-liners. Nigel Ellacott is a hilarious panto dame, and I particularly enjoyed the striptease routine which he performed as if second nature. The principals are supported by some great comedy performances from James Patterson, Nova Skipp and Lucy Conley as the three bears; Conley in particular brings heaps of energy with her tap dancing bear performance to the title number from 42nd Street.

Perhaps the stars of this year’s panto though are the circus acts. El Mariachi Marquez gives one of the most impressive juggling performances I’ve ever seen, including one part of the routine where he juggles tiny balls with his mouth! It’s a genuinely thrilling act, and he performs it with great panache as the crowd cheer him on. Phil Hitchcock as the Magic Mysterioso performs an equally mind-boggling act, making doves and cages disappear and reappear before our eyes, with a great little comic twist thrown in as well.

Ian Westbrook’s set and Mike Coltman’s costumes burst with colour and plenty of sequins. The cottage of the three bears is drawn like something from a children’s picture book, with charmingly uneven windows and wonky wooden beams. Epic backdrops transport us seamlessly from scene to scene and make the perfect setting for circus and magic tricks galore. Ellacott has some standout outfits, my favourite being a dress which looks like a giant, red tartan bag (with a handbag to match!).

I would’ve enjoyed a few more pop songs, and a little more innuendo, but finishing off with the ‘If I Were Not Upon this Stage’ sketch never fails to put a smile on my face. A really fun family pantomime, with lots of tricks and plenty of spectacles, to get us all in the mood for Christmas.

4 stars

Review by Joseph Winer

Goldilocks’ circus is under threat from an evil rival circus owner and, with the help of their madcap circus friends, they’re battling to rescue their Big Top from ruin. Will they succeed? All seems lost, until three brilliant bears join the gang…

For four weeks only, Richmond Theatre will be transformed into a sensational circus, with a show featuring extraordinary special effects and amazing circus tricks as well as all of your favourite moments from a traditional pantomime such as slapstick scenes, boos and hisses, singalongs and much more!

This spectacular show stars TV favourite Matt Baker (Countryfile, The One Show) as Joey the Clown, following his acclaimed performance in the 2019 London Palladium production. He is joined by West End star and impressionist Jessica Martin (Spitting Image, Me and My Girl) as this year’s baddie Countess Von Vinklebottom and award-winning pantomime dame Nigel Ellacott as Betty Barnum.

Hilarious comedian Phil Walker leads the circus as Ringo the Ringmaster with Tamara Morgan (Half a Sixpence) playing the titular role of Goldilocks.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears is at Richmond Theatre from Sunday 4th December, 2022 to Saturday 31st December, 2022.

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