PUSS in Boots has just finished its run of eight shows at Holybourne Theatre, and what a run it was! Ticket sales have broken box office records and the theatre had to turn away people from two shows.
This year was also a special year as John Priddle, who has played the role of Dame for more years than he cares to remember, celebrated 50 years’ membership. This anniversary was marked every night, in a traditional manner, with a custard pie cake in his face.
Puss in Boots is the story of a talking cat who helps his young master defeat an ogre by tricking him into transforming into a mouse. The plot was brought up to date by Will Rixon, in his debut as both writer and director.
The show was packed with lots of visual and verbal jokes and kept the audience laughing all the way through. The theatre is hoping he can be persuaded to write another pantomime for them in the future.
The Ogre, played by Peter Stone, was large and green with a Scottish accent – and seemed vaguely familiar. As tradition demands, the Ogre was finally defeated by turning into a mouse, but also transformed into Donald Trump in an attempt to scare the hero, Michael Miller.
Michael was played by Heather Davies as a meek, geekish youth, unlike her brother Malcolm, played by Kim Gooch. Stef Dickson played the resourceful cat, and ensured Michael won the hand of the lovely, and strong-willed, Lucille, played by Charlotte Heath. With the ogre defeated, Lucille’s parents, Lord and Lady Lumpington (Alison Dickson and Hilary Brown) and their equerry Bottomsworth (Sharon Gooch) could breathe a sigh of relief as they had all been threatened with being eaten.
Finally, the true villain of the show is revealed as not the ogre, but Nicola the necromancer (Laura Brand) and her skeleton army, led by Kirsty Melton-Scott and Kerry Gooch. The skeleton army performed a brilliant ultra-violet dance routine during the first half of the show, showing the talents of Holybourne Youth Theatre.
All pantomimes are unpredictable, with every night being different, and with both John Priddle and Pete Stone in the cast the audience knew that they were in for a great show.
It is easy to forget how much hard work goes on behind the scenes for these shows, particularly with such a large cast of adults and youth of nearly 40 people. The bright costumes, the lively music, the many colourful scenes and the technical equipment requires a small army of people working hard for nearly three months. However, the result is well worth it when the audience leaves happy.
Holybourne Theatre has expressed its thanks also to Tanya Applegarth, of Wildly Upbeat Printers, for agreeing to be the town centre box office – a service appreciated by many people who do not wish to buy tickets online.