Well, Johnny McKnight has done it again; he’s written and directed a Christmas panto which gave fabulous festive cheer to one and all.
This year the Macrobert pantomime was our favourite fishy tale, The Little Mermaid, and as always it was packed with bubbly fun and comedy which kept us all crying with laughter from start to finish.
The story followed the romance of Ariel, (Kara Swinney), as she swims to the ocean top and falls in love with the dashing, but not quite so daring Pirate Percival Persil, (Miguel Belotto). But that’s not all to this story, for down on the ocean floor lives Ariel’s brother, Daz, (Robert Jack), their mother, Queen Marina of Oceania, (Johnny McKnight), and their best friend, Ariana, (Dawn Sievewright).
Queen Marina, (Johnny McKnight), by Macrobert Arts Centre
But as their underwater lives seem to be going swimmingly, Ariel decides she wants to live with her dream boat pirate, but how can she when she has fins and he has feet? But ah ha, let the booing commence, as the wicked Ursula, (Johnny McKnight), enters stage left and offers Ariel a deal where she gets to be a human for three days, but must gain true love’s first kiss before the sun sets on the third day, or else she turns into nothing but sea foam.
Of course, we all know that the love smitten Ariel seals the deal and goes to see her pirate prince, but then all begins to go wrong as Ursula’s devious plans come to light. Along with her evil assistant, Samsara, (Helen McAlpine), Ursula plots to get her slimy tentacles on Percival Persil and take over Marina’s watery kingdom.
Daz, (Robert Jack), and Samsara, (Helen McAlpine), by Macrobert Arts Centre
But as always the lively panto family come together to save the day and Ariel, Percival, Marina, Daz and Ariana find a way to save Oceania and live happily ever after.
Per usual, the whole production was sensational. The costumes, the sets and the performance were bold, colourful, captivating and energetically entertaining. The dance scenes were beautifully choreographed and the songs, which contained hits from 2015, were cleverly incorporated and sung magically.
Ariel, (Kara Swinney), by Macrobert Arts Centre
The acting was a delight with the cheerfully cheeky Johnny McKnight chatting up half the audience and keeping kids and adults giggling alike.
Miguel Beloto made a passionate and eccentric hero figure and the combination of him and his nutty sister, played by Helen McAlpine gave the whole play a sense of originality and quirky fun.
Yet as ever, Dawn Sievewright, Robert Jack and Johnny McKnight came together in a sparkling theatrical trio and proved that they were born to perform on the panto stage. Their chemistry was cosy yet sizzling, their comedy enticing and their passionate energy contagious.
Overall, The Little Mermaid was pantomime perfection and was a thrilling treat of glittering Christmas cheer for all ages this winter.
By Caroline Malcolm