With pantomime season in full swing, you’ll be spoiled for choice with Jacks climbing beanstalks and Cinderella’s going to balls, though it’s harder to find a Rumpelstiltskin amongst the line-ups. But Charles Court Opera have a tendency not to follow the crowd, and instead put their own spin on beloved stories – past hits include Beowulf and King Tut – and this year it’s the turn of the imp that could spin straw into gold to take to the stage at Park 90.
The traditional story of Rumpelstiltskin; where the miller’s daughter and future Queen has to promise the goblin her first born child unless she can guess his name, is covered in the opening number, ‘Once Upon A Time’, only then for script writer John Savournin to take us on a brand new adventure, a sequel if you like.
Now Rumpelstiltskin is the hero of the story, with a new nemesis to face; The Dreamcatcher. Granting wishes, but twisting them, leaving Fairytale Land bereft of its favourite characters, and most importantly of all, The Storyteller.
So Rumpelstiltskin sets off to find those missing, meeting some of our favourite panto characters along the way. Savournin’s script is clever in the way it brings more well-known names into the story, and it’s filled with those wonderful panto jokes that bring the same number of groans as laughs as it turns the whole story completely on its head.
It wouldn’t be a Charles Court Opera boutique pantomime without some cracking original songs. David Eaton’s music for Rumpelstiltskin is quite an eclectic mix and move away from the usual piano accompaniment, starting off with electronic rock sounding ballads, before bringing in a rave tune and even some rap. Surprisingly it works, and the songs fit the relevant parts of the story.
A cast of four; Philip Lee, Emily Cairns, Tamoy Phipps and Lucy Whitney bring all of the characters to life. They do a remarkable job considering how much they have to do. The panto is pitched as being for an older audience, and there’s certainly a good deal of innuendo, but the young children in tonight’s audience were oblivious to all of that, and instead were caught up in the magic of it all.
With Rumpelstiltskin, Charles Court Opera choose to tell their own story, and encourage those of us watching to go out and do the same. This is a fun Christmas show that benefits from Savournin’s excellent script, and allows it audience, young or old, to believe in the power of choosing their own path.
Rumpelstiltskin is at Park 90 until 14th January 2023.