Theresa Heskins has been writing or adapting the New Vic Christmas show for the past ten years and so it is no surprise that she know exactly what works when entertaining the families of North Staffordshire with a festive spectacular.
Her latest effort, “The Prince and the Pauper” keep up the high standard set by The Borrowers and Treasure Island as she adapts the well known story by Mark Twain into an entertaining and colour ful show that will appeal to all of the family.
The Prince and the Pauper tell the story of young and poor apprentice, Tom Cantly (Nichole Bird) who finds himself inside the royal palace and who meets Prince Edward (Danielle Bird, and also Nichole’s twin sister).
Of course they swop places, as they looks so alike and set out to discover what life is like for the other. Both soon find that life is not straightforward in the other’s shoes as Tom finds that he can’t too much rich food without feeling ill and also has to dispense justice to the poor whilst Edward finds that buying a pie to stave off hunger involves a previously unknown to him object called money (which he doesn’t have)
Along the way Tom has to deal with Edwards oldest sister, Mary (an extremely funny Gareth Cassidy) and Edward has to avoid a beating form Tom’s father, Pa Cantly (the menacing Matthew Ganley). However Edward does find a hero in the shape of Miles Hendon ( David Ahmad) who introduces him to a troupe of roving players to hide Edward when the mob are after him.
Great support work also comes from Kieran Buckridge as the First Lord of Everything and Player Manager , Jasmin Hinds as the feisty Princess Elizabeth and Tom Richards who plays a slightly dim-witted beefeater as well as King Henry the Eighth.
Of course, as it’s a feel- good Christmas show, everything ends happily ever after but not without a lot of adventures along the way to keep children of all ages on the edge of their seats.
A word of praise must go to the incredible set design from Laura Willstead and the costume design of Lis Evans which all add to the colour and spectacle and the feeling that we are somehow sitting in a Tudor theatre as we watch the events unfold.
The evening is full of music which is composed and directed by James Atherton and excellent dance which is choreographed by Beverley Norris- Edmunds.
The seven year old who I took along to the press night certainly seemed to find the whole production enthralling and if his age group can be pleased then I reckon that the New Vic are onto yet another Christmas production winner.
“The Prince and the Pauper” runs at the New Vic Theatre until Saturday January 25th 2020.
Telephone the box office for tickets on 01782 717962 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Photograph credited to Andrew Billington