Tag Archives: Charlotte Wakefield

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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The Great British Bake Off Musical

The Great British Bake Off Musical


Noël Coward Theatre



The Great British Bake Off Musical

“Showstoppers, foot-tappers and ballads are seasoned with lyrics that, although overall are delightfully clever and witty, should also come with allergy warnings”


The Great British Bake Off has risen to heights of success from its humble beginnings. An idea inspired by country fete baking competitions. The stakes were never going to be high; consequently, the proposal was rejected by all the major broadcasters for years. So, hats off to Anna Beattie, co-founder of ‘Love Productions’ for persevering. By 2020, the eleventh series received the largest audience for a TV series ever seen on Channel Four in thirty-five years. With such a fan base, the spin off, “The Great British Bake Off Musical”, can be generously served up in the West End with pre-cooked taste appeal.

As with all reality TV, the appeal is the human element. It is the personalities and their sometimes interlocking stories that we tune in for. Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary, the team behind the book, music and lyrics, have taken this premise as the main ingredient for their musical. A baker’s dozen characters mingle in the festooned marquee, held together by a tenuous and treacly love story. A marble cake’s mix of light and dark sponge. Pure indulgence, and escapism.

What ends up on our plates has the feel of a recipe-book revue, or song cycle. Showstoppers, foot-tappers and ballads are seasoned with lyrics that, although overall are delightfully clever and witty, should also come with allergy warnings. There is no doubt, however, that the musical numbers are a treat. There are no unfamiliar flavours, but they showcase the vast array of vocal talent on stage, most of whom have their own big solo.

Presiding over the proceedings are the presenters Jim (Scott Paige) and Kim (Zoe Birkett), with judges Phil and Pam: John Owen-Jones as a thinly disguised Paul Hollywood while Haydn Gwynne, as Pam, is a sassy mix of Mary Berry and Prue Leith. The contestants plough through the rounds of the competition, dishing up their back stories, establishing allies and rivals, voicing dreams and venting insecurities. Whether through song or dialogue they are pushed for time, so the scenarios and revelations are underdone, and half baked. Syrian student Hassan (Aharon Rayner) and Italian fashionista Francesca (Cat Sandison) bond over a shared feeling of not fitting in. Izzy (Grace Mouat) is ‘in it to win it’ until she gives way under the sheer weight of platitudes in the script. Claire Moore, however, is delightfully saucy as Babs the hungry (and not just for cake) granny, eliciting cheers from the crowd with her stand out number, ‘Bab’s Lament’. Moore is the leader of the double entendre – no mean feat as the whole company is grappling for a piece of the pie. At times ‘Carry On Baking’ threatens to usurp the show’s title.

Die-hard fans of the television series are well catered for, with mini-dramas pinched from the series to fill the gaps in a story as thin as spun sugar. Sliced fingers, melted ice cream and slapping strudels. And speculation about off camera romance; recreated here in the form of widow Ben (Damian Humbley) blending with self-effacing Gemma (Charlotte Wakefield) from Blackpool. A predictable path to a cloying conclusion, yet we are charmed by Wakefield’s winning presence, shedding Gemma’s humility to rise triumphant in her solo numbers.

It’s all in the presentation. It’s the icing on the cake that matters. “The Great British Bake Off Musical” is a ready-made recipe for success. The converted will guarantee that. And why not? Ultimately the force, commitment and musicality of the performers prevent it from sinking in the middle.


Reviewed on 6th March 2023

by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Manuel Harlan


Last month’s top show reviews:


Thirsty | ★★★★★ | VAULT Festival 2023 | February 2023
Gay Witch Sex Cult | ★★★★★ | VAULT Festival 2023 | February 2023
Dance Me | ★★★★★ | Sadler’s Wells Theatre | February 2023
The Lehman Trilogy | ★★★★★ | Gillian Lynne Theatre | February 2023
Cirque Berserk! | ★★★★★ | Riverside Studios | February 2023
Britanick | ★★★★★ | Soho Theatre | February 2023
Hedda Gabler | ★★★★★ | Reading Rep Theatre | February 2023

Click here to read all our latest reviews