Tag Archives: Alicia Belgarde

Mother Goose


Cambridge Arts Theatre

MOTHER GOOSE at the Cambridge Arts Theatre


“this well-produced, entertaining and colourful show is perfect for anyone of any age to start engaging in live theatre”

Cambridge’s favourite dame (Matt Crosby) returns to the annual pantomime, directed by Michael Gattrell, for festive fun in an outlandish display of costumes with bad jokes, and adlibs. This year, as Gerty Goose, the Dame’s good-nature is tested with impossible-to-refuse temptations that ultimately lead to a decision that wealth and beauty do not bring happiness.

A revolving glitterball above the auditorium and flashing disco lights during the Overture set the scene (Lighting Designer Mike Robertson). Beautifully painted show cloths representing scenes of Cambridge (Set Designer Ian Westbrook) bring a familiarity to the story. Let’s not say ‘provincial’ because this production is of West End standard.

Two rivals in the battle of good over evil – Fairy Virtue (Charlotte Wakefield) and Demon Vanity (Pippa Duffy) – face off in rhyming couplets. This is all a bit static and serious and a missed opportunity for greater cringe-worthy rhyming, but Ms Wakefield raises the roof with her two solo numbers. Ms Duffy is quite a soft villain. Only minimal thunder rolls and lightening cracks at her entrances but this is no bad thing.

Alicia Belgarde as Jill Goose, the innocent girl-next-door and potential love interest, is a delight and Gemma Sutton, as principal boy Jack Purchase, beautifully spoken. Ms Sutton is just right in her thigh-slapping role, acing her solo song when it comes. Audiences will fall in love with this wonderful couple.

“Absolute highlight of the show is the ensemble”

Performance of the night – as chosen by the children brought on stage during the performance – is that of Steven Roberts as Sammy Goose. His energy, clowning and movement are all excellent, keeping the momentum between scenes. As an audience member, I found shouting “Hello, Sammy” on each entrance just fine, but the need for a regular “Sammy-Hug” is a bit icky. A running gag about a lost dog provides some good punning. Jokes about Cambridge go down particularly well. I’m not overly impressed by the repetition of business and product names which seem rather close to product placement.

Absolute highlight of the show is the ensemble (Dance Captain Sophie Karaolis). Their colourful and eye-catching costumes (Costume Designer Sue Simmerling), swirling petticoats, wide smiles and perfect moves (Choreographer Kevan Allen) are sheer joy. Life’s a Happy Song, their song and dance. Yes, it is.

The plot is pretty thin even by panto standards (Writer Al Lockhart-Morley) and the progress into the final scene isn’t really explained but it hardly matters. Some mention of the cost of living crisis is used as an early plot device but is quickly forgotten. A few topical and political jokes fall rather flat. The traditional messy slapstick scene is not as slick as it yet may become but it is funny enough and the youngsters love it. There’s no smut.

The producer states in his welcoming speech that pantomime is the “recruiting sergeant of the theatre” and with an audience of thousands to welcome through the doors this year, this well-produced, entertaining and colourful show is perfect for anyone of any age to start engaging in live theatre.

MOTHER GOOSE at the Cambridge Arts Theatre

Reviewed on 5th December 2023

by Phillip Money

Photography by Richard Hubert Smith



Previously reviewed at this venue:

Faith Healer | ★★★ | October 2023
A Voyage Around My Father | ★★★ | October 2023
Frankenstein | ★★★★ | October 2023
The Shawshank Redemption | ★★★ | March 2023
The Homecoming | ★★★★★ | April 2022
Animal Farm | ★★★★ | February 2022
Aladdin | ★★★★ | December 2021
The Good Life | ★★ | November 2021

Mother Goose

Mother Goose

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Bugsy Malone

Bugsy Malone


Alexandra Palace Theatre

BUGSY MALONE at the Alexandra Palace Theatre


Bugsy Malone

“Drew McOnie’s musical staging is simply stunning”


Down in the back alleyways of Prohibition era New York City, where shadows lurk beneath the stark, black fire escapes, lies Fat Sam’s Speakeasy. You wouldn’t know it’s there; except that for two hours each night its doors burst open to the lucky few (hundred) who are assembled in the Alexandra Palace Theatre’s beautifully decaying auditorium. No password is needed. Just a willingness to embrace your inner child and dive headlong into a glorious world of escapism. A world of song and dance belies the average age of the performers. While we are busy recapturing our youth, they are stealing the show, grabbing grown-up talent for themselves, and making the stage their own.

Like Alan Parker’s film on which the musical is based, the mobsters and molls the bootleggers and showgirls are played by nine-to-fifteen-year-olds. An unusual idea which, on paper, shouldn’t really work. But Parker’s film did – and so does Sean Holmes’ current revival. The precocious and wild energy is harnessed by sky-high production values, slick stagecraft and some of the best choreography to be seen in a long while. Drew McOnie’s musical staging is simply stunning.

The plot might be wafer thin, but it is filled with big characters. Fat Sam’s gang are under attack from rivals led by Dandy Dan, so Sam obviously wants to fight back. Enlisting Bugsy Malone to do his dirty work is not his wisest decision. Bugsy has fallen for the singer, Blousey Brown, and all he wants to do is whisk her off to Hollywood. Much ‘splurging’ ensues, from machine guns full of custard.

Albie Snelson, as Fat Slam, sets up the story and introduces us to the characters. In fine form, Snelson breaks the fourth wall with a keen sense of comic timing and delivery. Gabriel Payne is, for the most part, comfortable with the wisecracks and cheeky charm that define Bugsy’s character. Only occasionally do we get the sense that older words are put into younger mouths. Payne’s sense of showmanship, however, is flawless. Love interest Blousey is given commanding maturity by Mia Lakha, oozing star quality when under the spotlight in her solo numbers; ‘I’m Feeling Fine’ and ‘Ordinary Fool’. The quality of the singing is beyond its years. Similarly, Jasmine Sakyiama’s sultry songstress Tallulah lights up the stage, especially when opening Act Two with her signature tune ‘My Name Is Tallulah’. With a slightly slimmer script than Fat Sam, Desmond Cole’s rival gangster, Dandy Dan, certainly pulls as many punches. And special mention must go to Aidan Oti as Fizzy – Fat Slam’s caretaker and wannabee singer. Overlooked by his boss, but definitely not by the audience who are captivated by Oti’s cheeky charming charisma. And, boy, can he move!

The marginally older ensemble brings the whole show together. Not a step was put out of place during the demanding routines and the joy that each performer brought to their role shot straight to our hearts with exhilarating accuracy. The show never dips, even during the scene changes which are choreographed into the action, seamlessly shapeshifting the locations. Designer Jon Bausor, complemented by Philip Gladwell’s lighting, are the unseen alchemists that help transform the piece into pure gold.

It isn’t music heavy. In fact, the balance of dialogue, slapstick, humour and musical numbers is pretty good. But Paul Williams’ compositions stand out. The band, led by Musical Director Connagh Tonkinson, is tucked away at floor level but fills the cavernous auditorium. Each number sounds like a hit. By the time we reach the finale the audience are quite rightly on their feet. Feet that are young and old and all ages in between. This show, that has everything, is for everyone.


Reviewed on 7th December 2022

by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Pamela Raith




Recent Five Star Shows:


Doctor Faustus | ★★★★★ | Southwark Playhouse | September 2022
Rehab the Musical | ★★★★★ | Playground Theatre | September 2022
Hofesh Shecter: Contemporary Dance 2 | ★★★★★ | Battersea Arts Centre | October 2022
The Solid Life Of Sugar Water | ★★★★★ | Orange Tree Theatre | October 2022
La Clique | ★★★★★ | Christmas in Leicester Square | November 2022
Ghosted – Another F**king Christmas Carol | ★★★★★ | The Other Palace | December 2022

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