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December 2004
reviewed by Martin Neville in The Isle of Wight County Press 17/12/04
(reproduced by kind permission of the Isle of Wight County Press)

Like a lot of things in life, panto is something you either love with all your heart or loathe with a passion.

For me it's the words audience participation that breaks me out into a cold sweat.

You know the score: the house lights go up and a larger than life Dame comes out into the audience looking for some poor helpless victim.

Like me, you've probably positioned yourself smack bang in the middle of a row somewhere near the back of the auditorium to reduce the chances of it being you -believing in safety in numbers and all that.

I find sitting behind someone with a particularly large head or a Marge Simpson-style hair-do really helps your cause too.

The Law of Panto says that anyone sitting at the front or at the end of a row is just ripe for the picking and is asking to be hunliliated.

There's another law, the Law of Sod, that says despite your best efforts to remain inconspicuous you will be chosen no matter what.

Thankfully the dame in Cowes Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society's panto, Pinocchio, went easy on us all things considered.

Played by Geoff Day, he went down a storm with the little ones when he and Lampwick (Andy French) came bounding out into the audience bearing sweets and stickers.

They were the stars of the show and had an instant rapport with the many youngsters in the theatre.

Children can be the harshest of critics - far more so than your average CP reporter - but judging by their reaction they seemed to have a blast.

While Geoff got the lion's share of the laughs, Martin Woolven who played the frightening J. Farrington-Foxglove and Teresa Woolven as malevolent moggie Fenella Feline, attracted plenty of boos as they lured poor Pinocchio (Nicola Berryman) and Lampwick to Fun Land, where they become donkeys.

Don't worry though, they got their comeuppance.

Like Geoff, Andy worked extremely hard to win over the audience as mischievous schoolboy Lampwick.

This being pantomime, there was the traditional blackboard singalong led by Andy and Madisson Phillips as Belladonna, which sensibly happened towards the end of the show when even the most reserved of us were suitably warmed up and in the panto spirit.

The title role was CAODS stalwart Nicola Berryman, who was in fine voice, and the gentle Geppetto was played by CP award nominee Stuart Pointing, who was making his fourth appearance in panto at Trinity.

The other principles were Natalee Dighton as Gianetta, Amber Beard as the Blue Fairy, Paul Birch as the fire-eater and Nick Simmonds as the boatman.

Special mention must be given to nine-year-old Chloe Whillier, who excelled as Charlie Cricket and is definitely one to watch out for in the future.



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