Reviewed by Wendy Mildren
Written as a pantomime by local writer Lisa Aveyard, Venture Theatre’s The Princess and the Pauper opened to an enthusiastic small audience.
Princess Odessa (Jessica Ramsay) wants to escape the confines of the castle and her impending marriage to King Frederik (Luke Wagner). Her best friend Tobias (Kyle Hopgood) agrees to smuggle her out of the castle into the nearby village for a day of simple pleasures. The Princess meets Imogene (Cassandra Morris) who has been sold into slavery with the sly Madam Stich (Correne Woolmer) to pay off a family debt. Imogene bears a remarkable resemblance to the Princess and the two agree to change places for 24 hours. The Kingdom’s wealth has been stolen by Master Thaddeus (Jason Lokan) who is keen to prevent the Princess from marrying King Frederick so that he can marry the Queen Ramona (Adriana Allman). King Frederick, meantime has disguised himself as a gypsy and has mistaken Imogene for the Princess and has fallen in love with her.
The plot had the usual pantomime weak story line with the audience participating with boos for Master Thaddeus and cheers for King Frederik. Modern-day songs were loosely woven into the plot and sung to recorded background music. Luke Wagner produced a pleasant singing voice and was far and away the best performer. Kyle Hopgood played his part with relish and by the Second Act he had relaxed into it enough to show some real comic timing. Monique Watson, who played Elsa, another of Madam Stich’s indentured seamstresses, produced a good singing voice as well. The rest of the cast, including the two main females had very average singing voices. Hopgood, who had a line in the show which said “I can’t dance and I can’t sing” proved this when he sang. Unfortunately, Allman, who looked lovely as the Queen, also sang extremely flat.
The costumes were exceptionally good as was the make-up and the extreme hair do of Madam Stich. Venture has a loyal following and those who attended thoroughly enjoyed the show.