Review: Fun family show with Muddles and co

7 Apr 2013 @ 10.58 pm
| Entertainment
Peter Duncan as Muddles The Jester and some of the young York dancers. Photograph: YorkMix
Review: Rapunzel
Venue: York Barbican, April 7

Some belting songs, a good few laughs, circus skills and a troupe of wonderful young York dancers – there are few better ways to let your hair down than at a performance of Rapunzel.

It may seem odd at first to be watching a pantomime in April, even if it does feel more like winter than spring outside. But the Barbican’s decision to stage traditional Christmas fare at Easter – started last year – seems to have paid off judging by the numbers in the audience.

And it made for an entertaining afternoon. Peter Duncan, rarely off stage, drove the show forward with energy and jokes which were a cut above those at the Grand Opera House’s similarly off-the-peg winter panto. As Muddles The Jester the former Blue Peter presenter even managed a tightrope walk during a genuinely impressive circus scene.

Jenny Jones from tots supergroup Hi-5 made for an engaging Rapunzel and Jon Moses leant all his Jesus Christ Superstar skills to Prince Leopold. Blimey, the man can sing.

In fact the music throughout was of a very high standard, with the Queen (Nicki French) also possessing a royally fine voice. Kay Purcell, better known to the younger members of the audience as Gina from Tracy Beaker Returns, was given the perfect song to show off her gravelly vocal cords in When You’re Good To Mama from Chicago. Purcell was an enjoyably over-the-top wicked fairy, imprisoning Rapunzel in her tower with lip-smacking relish.

Colourful entertainment: Rapunzel
Colourful entertainment: Rapunzel

Some quibbles. Andrew Crawford and Joe Chambers were underused as Joey and Jape the Jesters. There were no decent local jokes (a reference to house prices in Halifax suggested the script writers have only a loose grasp of the local geography). And someone please tell Peter Duncan not to force the grown-ups in the audience to stand up and dance Gangnam Style. It’s not big and it’s not clever.

But the little kids loved it, the big kids had an enjoyable time and the young York dancers sprinkled their own magic dust over the tale of Rapunzel.