Monday, 5 January 2015

ROYAL AMBITION: Lively Princess Boonoonoonoos serves up light humour and tuneful zest

VILLAGE LIFE: Members of the Pantomime Company in a scene from the show, playing at the Little Theatre.

Sometimes you wish the Pantomime Company would shake things up and break out of the familiar routine when it comes to mounting their annual musical extravaganza, but playing it safe seems to work just fine for them. The 2014/15 LTM Pantomime, Princess Boonoonoonoos, is a visually appealing, flavourfully tuneful show that is thin on the meat but is nonetheless stylishly dreamed up, great to look at and weaves a story that is at once relatable and frequently amusing.

The community of Boonoonoonoos are a proud people who make no bones about encouraging their future leaders. So when resident bright spark Lovely (Antonette Perkins) pulls off the incredible feat of turning in the most outstanding grades in the islandwide exams, the locals all but pop champagne and kill the fatted calf to the tune of "Big Up, Miss Lovely," one of the catchiest tunes in the whole production, to show their appreciation for the pride and joy she has brought to their neck of the woods.

But that's only a miniscule portion of the story when you consider the nuisance of the too-rich-for-their-own-good Boasie-Anna Nuffness (Sharon Edwards) and her two bratty teen daughters, Pluralita (Cecelia McCarthy) and Nuffeesha (Maxann Stewart-Legg) — (the colourful twins from the Wayans' White Chicks have got nothing on them) — who are in the market for boyfriends of the monarchical variety, thank you very much. So when the pompous pair of Prince Wagga Wagga II (Shama Reid) and Prince Chik the Vth (Jason Williams) stride into town seeking a lovely maiden to sweep off her feet, pandemonium ensues with the girls and their mom smack in the thick of things. 

There's a classy royal ball where things take an interesting turn as the show crescendoes to its climax, while palpable romance plays out between Miss Lovely and her flute-playing suitor Robbie (Adrian Harris). And how can we forget to mention Aunt Bella (Faith Bucknor) and Mister Justice (Kevin Halstead), two towering senior figures in the community too busy overseeing the affairs of the neighbourhood and fixing other people's problems to realize that they belong together? And don't get us started on the omnipresent Rattus, who casts a keen, mischievous eye over all the action, putting the narrative in perspective for the audience and frequently breaking  into songs of his own. He's cleverly portrayed by Derrick Clarke. 

Boasting sprightly visuals and eye-popping design work (the mega-combo of lighting, costume and set is quite an achievement), the Robert Clarke-directed Princess Boonoonoonoos delivers much to enjoy in spite of the few low points (the pacing occasionally falters, the dialogue sometimes fails to spark) — thanks to the cast's infectious energy and enthusiasm and a tuneful zest that keeps the whole thing afloat. TALLAWAH's Verdict:

> A CUT ABOVE: Anya Gloudon-Nelson talks costuming and creative challenges

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