My work as a writer and dance/theatre reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘Panto

REVIEW: ‘Dick Whittington’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, Christmas 2016

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The title character in this year’s pantomime at Milton Keynes Theatre walks for miles in search of fame and fortune, strolling to London where he has been told the streets are paved with gold. Fortunately for theatregoers in the new city, Dick Whittington provides panto gold right on our doorstep! Melding magic, merriment and mayhem, the festive extravaganza is packed full of fun and stars a Christmas cracker of a cast.

Penniless Dick is played with warmth and wit (certainly more wit than is often granted to these boyish roles in panto) by actor Chris Jenkins. After packing his knapsack and lacing up his boots, this earnest chap ventures off towards the big smoke (striding “all the way from Cheltenham”), accompanied by his feline friend Tommy the Cat. When the duo finally arrive in the confusing city of Cockney conversation, they are disappointed not to be welcomed by golden paving stones. Completely famished and ready to earn an honest living, they discover that their promised land is overrun with villainous rats. Happily, they land on their feet (“miaow!”) when Tommy proves himself to be a top-notch rat-catcher and secures them both jobs in merchant Alderman Fitzwarren’s shop, Fitzwarren’s Stores.

Kev Orkian is panto personified as the shop’s assistant Idle Jack (swiftly promoted by Alderman to “assistant shop assistant” when Master Whittington appears on the scene!). Returning to the stage in what has become his regular Yuletide gig, Orkian easily proves why he is without question one of the UK’s finest entertainers. As an internationally acclaimed comedy pianist he is well-practised at simultaneously tinkling the ivories and tickling funny bones. With no piano in Dick Whittington (all the fantastic music is overseen by “Uncle Baz”, musical director Barry Robinson), Orkian is free to roam around the stage and has the audience in stitches throughout.



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Written by Georgina Butler

December 14, 2016 at 2:34 pm

REVIEW: ‘Aladdin’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, December 2015

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Gags, giggles and glitz galore ensure that Milton Keynes Theatre’s fantastical take on Aladdin is full of festive family fun.

The genie-ously cast pantomime stars singer-songwriter Ben Adams as the love-struck lad from Old Peking, entertainer Kev Orkian as his ridiculously funny brother Wishee Washee and showbiz stalwart Gary Wilmot as their panto dame mother Widow Twankey. Ballet dancer turned celebrity Wayne Sleep and American actress (and, yes, former wife of cultural icon Elvis Presley) Priscilla Presley make wishes come true as the Genie of the Ring and the Genie of the Lamp, respectively.

Complete with spectacular singing, enthusiastic dancing, stacks of silliness and more audience participation than ever before, Aladdin proves once again that the theatre is a place for everyone. In panto anything goes, and this show has all sorts of entertaining eccentricities!


Milton Keynes Theatre presents Aladdin with Priscilla Presley Gary Wilmot Ben Adams Wayne Sleep Kev Orkian Mark Pickering Aimie Atkinson and Phil Holden

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Written by Georgina Butler

December 9, 2015 at 3:09 pm

INTERVIEW with Wayne Sleep, November 2015

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This Christmas, renowned British dancer, director, choreographer, actor and panellist Wayne Sleep will perform in pantomime at Milton Keynes Theatre. Before the busy rehearsal period began, Wayne had a bit of a chinwag with Georgina Butler

Famous for being the shortest male dancer to ever attend The Royal Ballet School (he is 5’2″), Wayne Sleep is best known for his career as a celebrated Senior Principal Dancer with The Royal Ballet. Numerous roles were created for him by some of the world’s greatest choreographers and he frequently featured as a guest artist with other companies.

Appointed OBE in 1998, Wayne has also received honorary degrees from the Universities of Exeter and Teesside; is a Patron of the British Ballet Organization; is a Vice-President of the Royal Academy of Dance and has two entries in The Guinness Book of Records. In addition to dancing, Wayne also acts and makes appearances as a dance judge and celebrity. His credits include West End, regional and touring theatre productions; television shows and films – not to mention a plethora of pantomimes!



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Written by Georgina Butler

November 29, 2015 at 7:53 am

REVIEW: ‘Peter Pan’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, December 2014

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You don’t go to see a pantomime without expecting some kidding around and Peter Pan at Milton Keynes Theatre is guaranteed to bring out the child in everyone.

This year’s Yuletide extravaganza is an awfully big adventure that gives the tale of the boy who refuses to grow up a swashbuckling new lease of life.

Excitement was in the air when I attended a marvellous matinee performance on Friday. With Christmas Day itself less than a week away, youngsters from local schools – including Deanshanger Primary, Springfield Lower and Woodland Middle – were ending the term in seasonal style with a festive theatre visit.

Pantomime is probably one of the first experiences that most children have of the theatre. Going by the wide smiles and screams of delight (as every juvenile in the auditorium joined in with rounds of “he’s behind you”), the next generation of theatre-goers are well and truly hooked!


'Peter Pan' at Milton Keynes Theatre - Christmas 2014

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Written by Georgina Butler

December 21, 2014 at 6:35 pm

INTERVIEW with Flawless, December 2014

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Stylish dance act Flawless rocketed to fame on Britain’s Got Talent in 2009 and their supernova routines have yet to be eclipsed. This Christmas they are starring as a pop-locking, hip-hopping pirate crew in Peter Pan at Milton Keynes Theatre. Ahead of their onstage antics, the troupe met with Georgina Butler to show off some moves, talk about dance and share their efforts to revolutionise pantomime…


Flawless 1

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Written by Georgina Butler

December 5, 2014 at 1:25 pm

NEWS: “Second Star to the right and straight on ’til morning”: Official launch of ‘Peter Pan’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, October 2014

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 “I suppose it’s like the ticking crocodile, isn’t it?

Time is chasing after all of us.” (J.M. Barrie)


This year is flying by and there is no greater indication that Christmas is just around the corner than the press call for the official launch of Milton Keynes Theatre’s annual pantomime.

Family favourite Peter Pan will sprinkle fairy dust over audiences throughout the festive season and the performers seem just as enchanted by the magic of panto as the theatregoers who flock to see them in action.



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Written by Georgina Butler

October 11, 2014 at 6:01 pm

NEWS: So, that was Christmas – December 2013

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Lots of dance on television makes for a cracker of a Christmas

Christmas makes its presence felt as soon as the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing waltzes onto our television screens. When the sequin-covered participants take their first tentative steps onto the dance floor, I just know that the final quarter of the year will whizz by and, shortly, the winner will be lifting the coveted glitterball trophy, before the nation frantically finishes decking the halls.

Pantomime season means flocks of families visit the theatre for some festive cheer, while traditional productions of The Nutcracker (on stage and on screen) attract balletomanes and newcomers alike.

But, once cosseted in our homes for the celebratory period (whether just for the big day itself, or for an extended break), it is more often than not the television that we rely on for entertainment. Dance fans were spoilt for choice with plenty of telly treats this Christmas. If this time of year is all about indulging in what you enjoy, I certainly fulfilled the brief when it came to setting time aside to view some gorgeous productions.


Alina Somova (photo by Valentin Baranovsky, sourced from

Alina Somova in The Mariinsky Ballet’s 2011 production of The Nutcracker (photo by Valentin Baranovsky, sourced from

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