REVIEW: Witty, clever and pacey panto fun in Kenilworth with The Frog Prince

Paige Phelps and Kevin Wing play Princess Marina and Prince Frederick
Paige Phelps and Kevin Wing play Princess Marina and Prince Frederick

Charles Essex reviews The Frog Prince at the Talisman Theatre, Kenilworth

This was a marvellously adapted Brothers Grimm story by old pantomime hand Stephen Duckham and was a fitting tribute to the Talisman’s golden jubilee to celebrate what the good folk of Kenilworth and environs have enjoyed over the past 50 years.

Simon Moss was a real revelation as Queen Bea, the inevitable panto dame, in contrast to his previous role as Prince William in Charles III. His timing was impeccable and he got just the right level of engagement with the audience.

Kevin Wing, an accomplished musical theatre talent, and Paige Phelps had strong singing voices as Prince Frederick and Princess Marina, respectively. Hats off to the musical direction and the choreographers that gave us wonderful duets from Kevin and Paige, and the young chorus, from the obviously strong youth theatre, and the not-so-young chorus who gave us a delightful medley of well-known pop songs. Val Whitlock was remarkably Maleficent-like as the wicked cousin Nadia, manipulating her cute-but-dim sister Gerda (Gill Bowser) to thwart Frederick and Marina’s love.

Paul Sully as Marco the magician linked superbly with Bea in the enthusiastic audience participation. Talisman regular Alistair Joliffe gave a suitably sonorous performance as King Cockle when Frederick-the-frog, transformed by accidental magic, descended under water. The difference in size between Queen Bea and much slighter and smaller Laurie Weston as King Bumble worked extremely well as a device as poor Bumble was the counterfoil to Bea as the perpetually henpecked husband.

It was clear to this reviewer that the large audience clearly thoroughly enjoyed the evening. The script was witty, clever and there were no lulls as it flowed apace. It was wonderful to see so many children had been brought with parents and grandparents. This production demonstrates the talents the Talisman can draw on.

* The Frog Prince runs until January 4. Visit talismantheatre.co.uk or call 01926 856548 to book.