Panto is back! And Robin Hood at Nottingham's Theatre Royal is a magnificent treat for young and old

Christmas without pantomime is akin to missing the pigs in blankets from your main meal on the big day – it just feels wrong.

By Martin Hutton
Friday, 24th December 2021, 9:27 am
Matthew Kelly as Dame Tilly Tuck. Photo by Whitefoot Photography
Matthew Kelly as Dame Tilly Tuck. Photo by Whitefoot Photography

But that was the reality of the festive season last year when the dreaded coronavirus robbed us of the annual tradition.

Don’t get me wrong, we were in the grips of the pandemic, so the loss of pantomimes may seem like a trivial sidebar to what was going on in the country.

However, to many it is an integral part of the build-up, a treat to enjoy during Twixmas or even a way to extend the festivities in early January.

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Dance group Flawless are among the stars of the show. Photo by Whitefoot Photography

And it was wonderful to be back in the stalls with the family at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal for the staging of this year’s offering, Robin Hood.

Yes, we had to wear face coverings as per the government’s latest regulations, but the feeling of anticipation was palpable among the packed audience.

Children, perhaps at their first panto, mixed (in a socially responsible way) with veterans of the genre.

And what followed on stage was a tour de force of everything a quality pantomime should offer.

Silly Simon Phil Walker (left) and The Sheriff of Nottingham, Tristan Gemmill. Photo by Whitefoot Photography

The star-studded cast delivered on every front, from Corrie actor Tristan Gemmill as The Sheriff of Nottingham, to much-loved Matthew Kelly as Dame Tilly Tuck, former X Factor winner Matt Terry as the lead, Robin, the hilarious Phil Walker as Silly Simon and the high-octane street dance of the group Flawless, the show is not to be missed before it ends its run on Sunday January 9.

This is all killer and no filler.

Each scene offer something to the audience – all mixed in with classics such as a rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas involving a selection of random items, to Tilly Tuck and Silly Simon having some audience fun with those who committed the cardinal panto sin of booking front-row seats!

There’s a fantastic bit of fun involving the names of chocolate brands, and a tongue-twisting challenge between Simon, the Sheriff and Tilly. It would be a travesty if I spoiled the content.

The cool factor is ramped up to the nth degree when Flawless are on stage, defying gravity with their incredible moves, while there is even a new one on me with a segway into a performance by Moscovite circus star Denis Remnev.

So packed with top performers and performances, it would be easy to miss someone out.

So far I haven’t mentioned Kieran Powell, who plays Alan-a-Dale. The singing ventriloquist is to the manor born as his warm and low-key style, that seems almost improv, fits the style of the genre perfectly, especially when mixed with his fantastic comic timing and characters.

There is also Jodie Prenger as The Spirit of Sherwood. Her powerful voice, most notably in a duet with Robin just before the break, is majestic – a skill that has earned her an impressive list of theatre credits after she shot to prominence on the TV talent search I’d Do Anything.

Lastly, but by no means least, there is Lucy May Barker as a tough-talking Maid Marian.

Panto is definitely back – and Christmas is all the better for it.

For more information and to check ticket availability, CLICK HERE.