Saturday, November 30, 2019

The Frozen Princess – community panto which entertains from start to finish (Waterfront Studio until 31 December)

Based loosely on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, and with more than a nod to the Frozen movie, the Waterfront Studio pantomime this year is The Frozen Princess.

When Emily is cursed by a broken mirror and disappears off to the Snow Castle up on Cave Hill, her sister Anna is desperate to thaw relations in time for her wedding. Her nanny, Amanda Marry-Weather, has an endless list of tasks to complete ahead of Princess Anna’s wedding, but top of the list is finding her own perfect man. Meanwhile the Frozen Princess’ sidekicks are hunting high and low to capture Prince Freddie Foundered, there’s a reindeer on the loose, a snowman ready to melt someone’s heart and rhyming Fairy Sunshine who is trying to make everything good again.

The energetic cast of six tackle the multi-roled script and director Chris Robinson incorporates lots of audience participation, quick changes and jumping off stage to race around the auditorium. The two-level set is glittery, the props are supersized, there are references galore to streets and landmarks across Belfast, and there must be 12–15 songs (kudos to Katie Richardson) packed into the two-hour show which trilled audiences at the early afternoon performance I attended today. The cover of George Ezra’s Shotgun is superb and the final uplifting We’ve Got Each Other Back for Good really shows off Annika Graham’s choreography.

Marty Maguire’s pantomime dame spits out strings of jokes, littered with puns and ad libs. It’s a real skill to be able to hold a stage on your own for five minutes at a time in front of such a young family audience.

Gavin Peden is a Waterfront panto regular and revels in his role as the somewhat dumbfounded Prince. Eimear Barr’s Princess Anna is tall, confident, and will do anything to rescue her finance. The I’m a Sucker for You duet with Barr and Peden is a highlight before the interval.

Every Christmas panto needs a couple of clowns, and The Frozen Princess has two capable comic actors in the cast, Nicky Harley and Jo Donnelly, who pull off crazy disco dance moves and try to help their evil overlord put a freeze on the imminent nuptials. Finally, playing the titular role, Catriona McFeely spends most of the performance casting withering looks down from her lofty stage before her getting her warmth back in the finale.

This is a community panto which entertains primary school-aged children and their accompanying grownups from start to finish. There are no big gimmicks or fancy projections, though the lighting design is pretty spectacular and there’s a quick flurry of snow. Instead Tom Rowntree-Finlay and Thomas McCorry’s well-structured plot is performed with vigour and verve.

The Frozen Princess by GBL Productions runs in the Waterfront Studio until 31 December.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Seen this tonight with my wife and granddaughter it was brilliant won't single out any cast member cause all were brilliant really loved this