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Sunday, 3 January 2021

REVIEW: Once Upon a Pantomime by Anton Benson Productions (Online)

Anton Benson Production usually stages half a dozen shows each Christmas and as they were cancelled took the bold decision to record an online version at Rhyl Pavilion incorporating many of the usual headliners for their shows. The challenge was then two-fold; firstly, how to incorporate multiple comics, villains, fairies and heroines into one show and secondly how to capture the show for streaming online securely. The solution to the first challenge was that Anton Benson and the two directors/scriptwriters, Ryan Greaves and Katie Salmon created a mash-up of Cinderella, Snow White, Jack and the Beanstalk and Aladdin where the evil Karona stops the key scene in each before love can succeed. It's a clever idea and means some twenty performers get to play a lead role! The resulting stream suggested that technicalities behind capturing a stage show for streaming proved more difficult to overcome. 

As well as directing, Katie Salmon plays Fairy Tale, a linking character between each scene and Ryan Greaves plays the multiple characters of Wally, Wishee Washy and Buttons with plenty of enthusiasm and energy. They are surrounded by a host of well-known faces from TV and Pantomime, many in very short walk on or video appearances. Veteran Children's entertainer Dave Benson Philips plays the Genie and the King with his usual larger than life over the top style and sings "Look at me" from Sister Act. Barney Harwood plays the Princes and opens Act 2 with "let me entertain you". TV talent show stars Gareth Gates (the mirror in the wall), Bobby Crush, Opportunity knocks winner, (Vomitilda, an ugly sister), Sam Bailey, a GB Pantomime winner in 2019 (Fairy Godmother), Xfactor contestant Lauren Platt (Jasmine) and BGT's Ashleigh Butler and Sully (Aurora) all make appearances. TV quiz show chasers Anne Heggerty (Salmonella) and Mark Labbett (Fleshcreep) also get walk-on roles. Gemma Bissix, TV soap actress plays Morgana and Graham Cole, best known for the Bill, plays Abanazar. 
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