Suffolk News review of Robin Hood, by The Centre Stage Company, at Haverhill Arts Centre
‘Discotastic’ was how this new production of Robin Hood at Haverhill Arts Centre was billed, and discotastic it most certainly was.
The panto, which I went to on Sunday with my wife and three sons, was written and directed by James Player, who at 21 is the youngest director in the history of Centre Stage Company.
Of course, it had all of the traditional elements of any panto, the saucy dame with their innuendos, the villain and their hapless henchmen, the ‘he’s behind yous’, ‘oh yes he is/oh no he isn’t’ moments, the love interest and the audience participation.
But what made this version of Robin Hood different was the songs.
Each one was a funky disco classic, kicking off in the opening scene with Boogie Wonderland, by giants of the genre, Earth, Wind & Fire.
What a way to start, and the hip-shaking numbers were aplenty, featuring the likes of Disco Inferno (The Trammps), If I can’t Have You (A Bee Gees song made famous by Yvonne Ellman), YMCA (The Village People) and I’m Coming Out (Diana Ross).
In her first lead role for Centre Stage, Lara Gray (Maid Marion) was able to showcase her vocal talents to great effect, and her duet with Robin Hood (Ella Rowsell) was a stand-out moment as they performed You to Me Are Everything, a song made famous by The Real Thing.
The panto bad guy in Robin Hood is of course, The Sheriff of Nottingham, played here by Graeme Johnston, an experienced performer and a very safe pair of hands who is confident but also relaxed in these roles.
The boos rang out every time he entered the stage.
The plaudits for the cast members are too many to list individually, but when the hapless henchmen, Bow (Denise Harriss) and Arrow (Jackie Parker) performed Gloria Gaynor’s song, I Will Survive, the rousing applause they received told you all you needed to know.
Their experience showed and their sense of comedic timing was impressive throughout.
The main principles, Iona Griffey (Enchantress of the Forest), the dame, Nursie Nelly (Jason André), Friar Tuck (Sarah Lomas in her debut show for Centre Stage), Little Red Riding Hood (Joni André), Charlie Jones (Little John), his wife Molly (Emma Letcher) and the Sheriff’s mother, Mortianna (Sam Barker) all deserve praise, as did the entire supporting cast, crew and the band, led by musical director Karen Chinery, for making Robin Hood the success it was.
More shows are scheduled for January 18,19 and 20, with a 7pm performance each night, plus a 2.30pm matinee on Saturday.
For ticket details call 01440 703740.