Spotlight On… Star of Robin Hood And The Babes In The Wood – Robert Wade

Robert Wade plays Will Scarlet and Blondel in Stafford Gatehouse Theatre’s pantomime, Robin Hood And The Babes In The Wood – here, he tells Break A Leg all about it… oh yes he does!

Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, tell us about your characters.

I play two characters, Will Scarlet and Blondel. Will Scarlet is a famous Merry Man, he’s full of himself, he’s a ladies man but he’s equally got a silly side I would say. The character of Blondel is the story teller and narrator-type figure, he’s high energy and a bit of a rock star. They’re both quite similar characters in a way.

Why do you think audiences love the Rock ‘n’ Roll Pantomime format so much? 

It’s the fusion of live music and acting/performance which is quite a cool thing as a visual, to watch actors who play really well and then sing all in one show. Rather than having the defined line between musician and the actor.

What’s your favourite thing about pantomime season? 

This is my second pantomime and I like the camaraderie between the cast members, you’re all in it together, you’re all doing two shows a day. You’re rushing back for Christmas, you’re rushing back for new year and everyone is doing the same.

Why do you think that pantomime is still an important part of Great British culture?

It grew from the Music Hall era, the late Victoria twenties/thirties vibe and audiences have always enjoyed songs and acts. Panto has slapstick acts, songs and music. Theatres rely so much on panto as a crowd pleaser. Some people’s only experience at the theatre is watching pantomime. So if there’s a combination of comedy, music and romance then there’s nothing more British.

Who are your pantomime idols?

I don’t really have pantomime idols, I suppose I’m doing what I’m doing because of musical theatre – I played Oliver at the age of seven and it went from there.

Finally, sell the show – why should everybody buy a ticket to see Robin Hood And The Babes In The Wood? 

It’s got men in tights! It’s got songs, rock n roll songs from across the decades and genres, it’s got arrows, sword fights, greenery, puppets, an amazing set, amazing music and you’ll be up on your feet to dance. There’s jokes, a good story and everything, there’s nothing not to like!

Robin Hood And The Babes In The Wood ~ Stafford Gatehouse Theatre

Robin Hood And The Babes In The Wood stays at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre until 7 January 2018, to book tickets follow the link: Stafford Gatehouse Theatre Pantomime

Star rating: ******

It’s been a long time since I last saw Robin Hood And The Babes In The Wood performed, and it was a very different incarnation to the Rock ‘N’ Roll version currently being staged at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre. This particular version has become one of my favourite pantomimes of the season! It’s got it all, from a multi-talented who play numerous instruments and characterise their roles perfectly whilst also each having incredible singing voices – to a simple yet stunningly effective and innovatively practical set. You won’t be disappointed if you make it your priority to buy a ticket to this glorious production.

Taking the title role of Robin Hood is Sandy Grigelis and he’s the epitome of a pantomime hero, with a trademark cheesy smile which he flashes at the audience and doesn’t go amiss! His vocal ability lends itself to the various hits that he belted out, from ‘I Fought The Law’ to ‘Born To Run’. Laura Sillett was the perfect match for him as a feisty Maid Marion, an exceptional talent, Sillett brought out the strengths of the character rather than offering her as a meek ‘Princess’ and she’s another strong vocalist too. In fact ‘A Natural Woman’ was one of many highlights for me. Anthony Hunt was terrific as Sheriff of Nottingham, he was dastardly and yet a likeable villain. Samuel Townsend also gave a stand-out performance as Numbskull and Friar Tuck, he’s clearly adept at comedy and his comic timing provided the roles with additional impetus. Dominic Gee-Burch was a fantastic side-kick for Townsend as Portullis the ‘goon’ and was also notable as Little John. Mike Slader and Robert Wade played a number of characters between them, both gave strong performances and it took time for me to realise they were playing multiple roles – they were each so believable in the characters they took on. I was delighted to see the Babes portrayed as two older female ‘babes’ and Rachel Nottingham together with Celia Cruwys-Finnigan were outstanding as Whitney and Britney (insert clicking fingers and growls here!). ‘Da Doo Ron Ron’ was another highlight for me which was performed by the Babes and Marion. Finally, Steve Simmonds as Nanny Nelly Nightmare, he was everything a Dame should be – quick witted with an abundance of energy and gave a fearless portrayal.

In short, miss this show at your peril – Stafford have got one tremendous pantomime this year and the Rock ‘N’ Roll genre is innovative and fast becoming my favourite style of panto.

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