The audience stood and cheered at the end of this heart-warming pantomime. The energy spread out from the stage and embraced the theatre. It’s a feel-good, beautifully choreographed, funny, and colourful show.
Al Lockhart-Morley’s original script for a play set in Cambridge was packed with Cambridge jokes: “The Perse (School) is so posh, they call the gym James.”
When Mother Goose gets rich, she says: “Finally, we can afford a house in Newnham.”
There are some great performances here with a morality tale of a plot. Mother Goose, known affectionately as Gertie, is played by Matt Crosby the consummate dame.
He glides through the show after receiving what he usually calls “a warm hand on my entrance”.
On seeing him the theatre exploded. We’ve gasped at his frocks for the past decade. Gertie is a poor woman making a living as a cook in Eiderdowning College.
When her best friend Priscilla the Goose, (a stellar performance by Georgia Nicholson – I definitely felt her pain) starts laying the golden eggs.
The rugby ball shaped things may have come out of Priscilla’s bottom, but the eggs go straight to Gertie’s head.
She’s prepared to go to questionable lengths to buy herself youth and beauty. There is a Faustian tussle for Gertie’s soul by Demon Vanity (the bad fairy played exquisitely by Pippa Duffy – whose manner is reminiscent of a young Fenella Fielding), and Fairy Virtue played by Charlotte Wakefield. Wakefield’s voice is one of the panto’s real treats. Her singing One Moment in Time was gorgeous.
There is a love story. Cambridge student Jack Purchase (played with panache, thigh slapping and perfect diction by principal boy Gemma Sutton) is shyly in love with Gertie’s daughter Jill Goose, (triple threat Alicia Belgarde).
The comedy comes from the rubber limbed Steven Roberts as Gertie’s son Sammy Goose.
Meanwhile the grasping landlord, Squire Purchase, Jack’s Uncle (everyone is related here) is smooth Nathan Taylor.
The sloppy soapy slapstick scene in Gertie’s bakery with Mother Goose and Sammy throwing goo over each other had my 10-year-old companion convulsed with laughter throughout.
Yes we knew they are going to fall over but not exactly when.
The songs and the slick choreography are a strong element in this show with a band led by music director Dean McDermott. (Referred to by Crosby in his curtain call speech as “Uncle Dean”).
Numbers include Raining Men, We’re in the Money (from 42nd Street), Abba’s Money Money Money and Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now. All relished and clapped along to. Again, this year, Cambridge Arts Theatre has perfected the art of getting an audience to feel rather pleased with itself for going to a show.
You come out feeling that the world is a better place.
Mother Goose is at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Sunday, January 7.