No good pantomime comes without the odd rhyming couplet, a sufficient amount of cross-dressing and a dash of audience interaction. From the design of the set to an extremely enthusiastic cast, PantSoc produced a fantastic depiction of the Disney classic The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
When I went to the opening show, I was expecting to see the typical plot of a man named Quasimodo, who was hidden by a villainous archdeacon in the bell tower. However, Louise Jones diverged from the original plot by using a brilliant play on words. Instead of having a physical hunchback, Quentin (Harry Elletson) has the ability to tell the future or get a hunch to the future. The rest of the pantomime proceeds to present the tension between the anti – supernatural regime in the city of Notre Dame and the Festival of Fools. Still, all the things we loved about this classic tale are still there, from the wise, yet humorous gargoyles to the vital love story between Quentin and Esmerelda (Lisa Owen).
Act One opens with a beautifully sang parody of ‘Skid Row’ from the musical Little Shop of Horrors; one of many wonderful musical numbers throughout the production. This swiftly moves on to the introduction of the main characters of the production Quentin, Frollo (Jenny Thompson) and Esmerelda (Lisa Owen) who’s vigour and confidence was held throughout the whole performance and made for a delightful and amusing watch.
The highlight of Act One, and in fact the whole production, was Tippi (Rory Cartwright), a former bearded lady who was the leader of the Festival of Fools. Rory Cartwright’s performance was absolutely fantastic and was the source of most the laughter throughout the whole production. What made his performance so brilliant wasn’t his acting, his splendidly executed lines or the sassiness of his character; but his ability to perform the whole show whilst wearing a polite heel. Now that is a true skill.
It was in the Second Act that the villain of the Pantomime Pheobus (Harry Ward) was made. Unknown to Archdeacon Frollo, Phoebus had the power to steal other people’s magic and had been doing so throughout his time as head of the guard. Harry Ward’s beaming evil laugh epitomised the scheming and conniving nature of his villain-esque character. It was such a convincing performance that I was actually happy to see his character die in the end.
I cannot end my review without first complimenting the musical director’s (Jess Douglas) effort in this production. Throughout the production there were an array of parodies of well-known Disney songs such as Mother Knows Best or more appropriately named ‘Father Knows Best’ from the Disney favourite Tangled and also other classic songs like ‘The Final Countdown’. Not only was it enjoyable to hear these new takes on some of our guilty-pleasure songs, the alteration to the lyrics were extremely fun and perfectly fit into the context of the scenes.
Like all performances, it wasn’t perfect, there were a few glitches here and there. However, the enthusiasm, hilarity and sheer individuality of the plot combined to make a thoroughly enjoyable show. Unfortunately I can’t compliment everyone’s performance individually, but I wish I could, everyone played their part to make what was a superb production. Using one of the lines from one of the pantomimes musical numbers itself – ‘come one, come all!!’ and enjoy a brilliant production of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, you will without a doubt be in stitches throughout the whole show.
Thursday 29th January – Saturday 31st January 7:30pm
Doors Open 7:00pm for a 7:30pm start.
Tickets £4 students (£5 OTD), £7 non-students
Buy advance tickets on the YUSU website: http://www.yusu.org/whats-on