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Rapunzel at South Mill Arts in Bishop's Stortford: 'It's much closer to a musical theatre production than a pantomime'



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It's not the pantomime South Mill Arts audiences have come to expect at this time of year, but families can still let down their hair for the Bishop’s Stortford venue’s Christmas show, Rapunzel.

This new adaptation of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale has been created exclusively for SMA by Scott Ritchie Productions (SRP).

The cast of eight professional performers have so far done eight shows to public audiences over the first two weekends in December as well as others for schools – and now they’re ready for their main run at the South Road theatre from this Saturday (December 18) through to Sunday January 2.

Together, Wherever We Go – Rapunzel at South Mill Arts. Pic: Vikki Lince
Together, Wherever We Go – Rapunzel at South Mill Arts. Pic: Vikki Lince

While Rapunzel has elements of a traditional SMA panto – topical gags and audience participation – there’s no dame (and therefore no innuendo), no chorus of talented local youngsters, no orchestrated audience sing-song, no sweets or supersoakers fired at the punters and no young audience members shyly shuffling onto the stage to the delight of their parents.

Audiences can expect an eye-catching production – certainly in terms of the costumes and Paul Richard’s excellent lighting – that is very much crafted around director and co-writer Scott Ritchie’s musical theatre roots.

While pantos tend to be created around the script and are interspersed with songs, this production is very much the other way round, and as such it's much closer to musical theatre than pantomime.

Kim Holder as Rapunzel and Bethany Staton as Gothel the wicked witch. Picture: Vikki Lince
Kim Holder as Rapunzel and Bethany Staton as Gothel the wicked witch. Picture: Vikki Lince

The 13 songs include numbers from stage shows Shrek the Musical, Sister Act, Something Rotten, Wonderland, Anastasia and Gypsy, as well as hits by Queen, Meghan Trainor, Kanye West and Mariah Carey. Songs such as Friends and Together, Wherever We Go underline the play’s strong friendship narrative.

The cast of characters is played by a slick, clean-cut company of all-singing, all-dancing performers.

Kim Holder is the personification of a Disney princess as the feisty eponymous heroine, Bethany Staton is a striking presence – and possesses a fine voice – as Gothel the wicked witch, while Dom Curtis as Bertie and Adam Scotland as Sid, the camp-as-Christmas talking horse with a Scouse accent, make a good double act. Ellie Stevens, Nick Brittain, Aimee Devine and Joe Chums as the ensemble complete the cast.

I saw the show on its first Saturday (Dec 4) when, surprisingly, the auditorium was little more than half full. As such, it struggled to generate the required energy and electricity that would have given it the beating heart that no doubt it has with a packed theatre of enthusiastic schoolchildren. I’m looking forward to seeing it again.

Look at those guns! Adam Scotland as Sid the talking horse and Dom Curtis as Bertie. Pic: Vikki Lince
Look at those guns! Adam Scotland as Sid the talking horse and Dom Curtis as Bertie. Pic: Vikki Lince

DATES, TIMES, TICKET PRICES

The Rapunzel cast and crew are in action continuously from Saturday December 18 to Sunday January 2, with breaks on Christmas Day and December 29.

There are two performances a day on most dates, including Christmas Eve, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, with a single show on New Year’s Eve.

  • Sat Dec 18 – 11am, 3pm & 7pm, £25 (adult) / £22 (concession) / £84 (family)
  • Sun Dec 19, Mon Dec 20 & Tue Dec 21 – 1.30pm & 5pm, £25 / £22 / £84
  • Wed Dec 22 – 1.30pm & 5pm, £27 / £24 / £89
  • Thu Dec 23 & Christmas Eve (Fri Dec 24) – 11am & 3pm, £27 / £24 / £89
  • Christmas Dayno performances
  • Boxing Day (Sun Dec 26) – 1.30pm & 5pm, £27 / £24 / £89
  • Mon Dec 27 – 1.30pm (relaxed performance) £21 / £18 / £71; 5pm £23 / £20 / £78
  • Tue Dec 28 – 1.30pm & 5pm, £23 / £20 / £78
  • Wed Dec 29no performances
  • Thu Dec 30 – 1.30pm & 5pm, £23 / £20 / £78
  • New Year's Eve (Fri Dec 31) – 1.30pm, £23 / £20 / £78
  • Sat Jan 1 & Sun Jan 2 – 1.30pm & 5pm, £23 / £20 / £78

* For tickets, call the box office on 01279 710200 or visit www.southmillarts.co.uk.

The royal family. Pic: Vikki Lince
The royal family. Pic: Vikki Lince
Plenty of high jinks in Rapunzel at South Mill Arts. Pic: Vikki Lince
Plenty of high jinks in Rapunzel at South Mill Arts. Pic: Vikki Lince
Adam Scotland as Sid, a horse who talks with a Scouse accent. Pic: Vikki Lince
Adam Scotland as Sid, a horse who talks with a Scouse accent. Pic: Vikki Lince
Kim Holder is a Disney princess personified as the feisty eponymous heroine. Pic: Vikki Lince
Kim Holder is a Disney princess personified as the feisty eponymous heroine. Pic: Vikki Lince
Look out for Bethany Staton as wicked witch Gothel. Pic: Vikki Lince
Look out for Bethany Staton as wicked witch Gothel. Pic: Vikki Lince
Kim Holder as Rapunzel and Dom Curtis as Bertie. Pic: Vikki Lince
Kim Holder as Rapunzel and Dom Curtis as Bertie. Pic: Vikki Lince
Kim Holder as Rapunzel, Dom Curtis as Bertie and Adam Scotland as Sid the horse. Pic: Vikki Lince
Kim Holder as Rapunzel, Dom Curtis as Bertie and Adam Scotland as Sid the horse. Pic: Vikki Lince


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