Does a cast of 57 make it a Variety Show? Well, if variety is a fun packed, colourful show stuffed with laughs and risqué humour, then Alison Wünderland was Variety with a capital V.
The 5As panto is always a special treat. This year's script by Colin Cliffe was a corker packed with politically incorrect jesting.
Those who looked carefully at the posters and programme may have wondered about the ü in Wünderland.
Well, let's just say we hope there weren't too many Germans amongst the packed audiences during this week's run as Fritz and his family occupied centre stage, the ailses, and even the toilets – and without a towel in sight.
If Germans were there, hopefully they had an uncharacteristic sense of humour. But then again, Scousers came in for some good-humoured stick too – as did anyone from Crewe!
The cast was aged from 5 to 55 and all ages put in great performances. The humour, the music, the chorus, the costumes and sets were fantastic making this one of the best 5As shows we've seen.
Your reviewer, accompanied by three very young theatre goers, attended the matinée performance yesterday. The atmosphere at a matinee is so very different with the audience packed with youngsters and, as you'd expect, all responding resoundingly to every "He's behind you."
We were told some of the more politically incorrect quips and laughs were toned down compared with the evening shows. Well, if so, there must have been some right crackers at night! And surely not to be repeated here – at least until after the watershed.
Highlights included a great Indian dance routine and a grisly but beautifully executed dungeon scene with beheaded victims of the Queen of Hearts rhapsodising Queen-style. The two executioners included a Work Experience trainee from Brine Lees, armed with possibly the biggest chopper you could possibly imagine – are you starting to get the idea if you didn't see the show?
A word about the costumes – they were amazing, as Alan Duncan's photos show. Given that most of the cast had numerous costume changes, their design and production was a Herculean task led, we were told, by Monique Hollinshead.
Which leads us on to the 5As charity raffle, this year supporting The Teenage Cancer Trust. Monique and her partner Dave are cycling in April from Land's End to John O'Groats (all up hill) in just eight days to raise money for the charity.
It was, in every way, a great performance – even the warm-up routine. The production team – and over thirty are involved behind the scenes plus parents of the younger cast members – and everyone involved in this production should feel very very pround, as well as exhausted, this morning. It was a Wünderland of a show, as Fritz would say.
And what did the youngsters say. Well our three very young audlience-members were still buzzing hours later. And their verdict? "Wünderbar" – delivered, naturally, with a perfect German accent!
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