For this year’s Rock and Roll Panto, Robin Hood and his band of men (and women) have been transferred from Nottingham to Flintshire. In King Gruff’s absence, the evil Sheriff has made all manner of draconian rules, the worst of all, in Rock and Roll Panto land, being the ban on music. Much drama, fun and hilarity ensue as Robin and crew fight for their right to party, defend Flintshire Forest and save Maid Marion from a forced marriage to the Sheriff.
“This year” is a phrase used to great comic effect by Rock and Roll Panto stalwarts Phylip Harries and Daniel Lloyd as an after-aside: “I’m Lady Myfanwy of Mold….this year” and “I’m Little John…this year”.
The fact that the two have been in the popular productions for so long is testament to their acting, musical ability, flare and on-stage chemistry together. As a guitarist and singer Daniel Lloyd never misses a note, be it singing Myfanwy in formal tenor or belting out classic rock riffs. As well as being a side-splitting dame, Harries plays a range of brass and woodwind instruments.
Making his Rock and Roll Panto debut, Connor Going as Robin Hood made an excellent job of keeping up with the pair in a hilarious, fast-paced, lip-syncing scene that had the audience laughing out loud.
Celia Cruwys-Finnigan held her own as Marion – tiny, beautiful and fierce with a cracking voice.
Ben Lock was excellent as the Sheriff and even though I stuck to the laws of panto and booed with the best of them for the baddie, I really wanted to cheer, so delightfully wicked and funny was he.
I really enjoyed Chioma Uma’s engaging performance as Jolly Goodfellow the forest sprite. The fairy role is an important one, serving too as half narrator half emcee, and she carried it out with aplomb.
I’m always a huge fan of the costumes and set, designed by Adrian Gee, and this year was no exception. I particularly enjoyed the Sheriff’s costume which comprised a white blazer and shorts with pink piping, argyle socks held up with pink garters, a pink rosette, cravat and feather boa, and a transparent mac – perfection. And of course, no mention of costumes is complete without a credit to the dame’s outrageous outfits – from the gown seemingly inspired by Madonna’s Blonde Ambition conical cups to an array of dresses in autumnal hues and leaf and acorn accessories.
The autumnal palette and forest theme was carried across most costumes with leaves adorning them. None so effectively as on Jolly Goodfellow’s colourful outfit where the highlights were a full skirt made of huge, stitched together and overlaid leaves, and some bright, glow in the dark dreads.
The woodland set was stunning, with carved trees, slides and ladders lit in the most spectacular fashion. Never more so than during amazing renditions of the songs Fire and We Didn’t Start the fire. Huge praise for lighting team Johanna Town and Edward Saunders for the spectacular way they lit up the forest, and to writer Christian Patterson for the Welsh spin on the latter’s lyrics.
As usual the songs were excellently curated from rocky One Way or Another, Fight For Your Right and I Believe in a Thing Called Love, to Yma o Hyd, to disco classics like We Are Family, Motown tunes like My Girl, and pop masterpiece Good as Hell. The harmonies on some of the songs were out of this world.
As a regular at the Theatr Clwyd pantos, I found the Robin Hood story presented an opportunity for a refreshing change of structure, and was really wowed by the effect that the ensemble nature of the production created.
The cast displays almost an embarrassment of talent, with note-perfect voices even while dancing and each a master of several instruments.
Although the Rock and Roll Panto is always a huge treat, this was mine and my youngest’s favourite since Dick Wittington, and my eldest said: “it’s always amazing but this is on another level!”
Outgoing Artistic Director Tamara Harvey can be pleased that she ends her Rock and Roll Panto run on a high.
Photos by Kirsten McTernan
Booking is available here or by calling 01352 344101.
Robin Hood runs until 14 January 2023.