Alice in Pantoland is a breath of fresh air when it comes to new interpretations of fairy tales. The story isn’t a retelling, rather an entirely new take on the world of fictional characters we all know so well. We are thrust into a world divided into two lands – that of Happily Ever After (where the heroes ended up after their story ended) and that of Happily Never After (where all the villains ended up). We follow Alice (played by Rhianna Otero Salgado) as she journeys through Pantoland and the land of Happily Ever After in hopes of stopping the villains from taking over Happily Ever After; Alice being the only one able as it was both her destiny, and because her story hadn’t finished yet.
This production being a panto brought a lot of different elements together to create the finished piece. We were pulled along as the cast went through numerous dance numbers, songs for all ages and cameos from characters everyone loves. A standout cameo being Megan Allsop as Wendy from Peter Pan, livening the moment with her witty characterisation. Not that she was the only captivating performer, there are too many actors that stood out for me to list all of them. But I do think that the star performance must go to the Mad Hatter, played by Emily Ewins. She fully immersed herself in the quirky character and ownned the stage whenever she was on it, or at one moment, even in the audience.
The music choices were clearly there to target a wide range of audience members, having songs from Cher to Baby Shark. Not only did this give everyone a contextual reference, but helped the audience relax into the fourth wall breaks. It was also a chance for the actors to show a range of vocal capabilities; Florence Slade embracing the smooth jazz tone of her voice in ‘Advice from a Caterpillar’ being a great example. A lot of the music had a comedic impact, which instigated a good response from the audience, with one man saying, “It was very funny, some of it was hilarious”.
Panto is known for its quirky dances as much as it is for its ensemble, both of which were incorporated throughout the performance. The most prominent dancer, Prince Jack played by Daniel Porter, showed some incredible technique and was set some very challenging choreography. The ensemble really worked as a collective to ease the audience into new worlds through dance. Everyone gave there all as they showcased their different strengths in some difficult numbers, but Ellie-Mai Cosgrove held my attention from the start with her cheerful onstage persona. She was captivating and uplifted the atmosphere constantly.
An engaging night out for families, showcasing some amazing talent and plenty of enthusiasm.
Article by BOA Student Freya, as part of our ORT Report scheme