MOTHER GOOSE: The Pantomime

Circa One, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

16/11/2013 - 22/12/2013

Circa One, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

02/01/2014 - 11/01/2014

Production Details

Directed by SUSAN WILSON

A Golden Egg of a show … Mother Goose is well worth a Gander! 

The Christmas season is here again – and this year Circa has another fantastic new pantomime to entertain young and old, Mother Goose, one of the greatest all-time favourites in this marvellous festive tradition.

The New Zealand première of MOTHER GOOSE

So get into the spirit of the season and join Mother Goose and her friends on a fabulous flight of fun and fantasy in this unmissable pantomime adventure. 

Mother Goose hits the jackpot when Lucy the goose starts laying golden eggs. But it’s not enough for her to just feather her own nest – she wants youth, beauty and a total makeover as well. Meanwhile news of the goose and its golden gifts has travelled, and from far away an evil plot is hatching …. Look out behind you!!! 

With an abundance of laughter, comedy, costume and songs, Mother Goose is a must-see crackin’ eggs-trava-gander of a Panto! 

So gather your friends and family, and join the flock making merry magical mayhem in Wellington’s own Nurseryville – the perfect recipe for a great night out! 

With a wonderful cast of highly talented actors, Mother Goose stars audience favourites and exciting new faces in: 
with Musical Direction by the irrepressible MICHELLE SCULLION. 

Pantos are about fun … full of magic and music– Lynn Freeman

Set Design – John Hodgkins | Lighting Design – Jen Lal | Costume Design – Sheila Horton  

$25 SPECIALS – Friday 15November – 8pm;  Sunday 17 November – 4pm;         

Performance times:
Tuesday Wednesday & Thursday – 6.30pm
Friday & Saturday – 8pm
Sunday – 4pm 

2 – 11 JANUARY 2014 
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday – 6.30pm 
Sunday – 4pm  

Ticket Prices:  Adults – $46 | Concessions – $38 | Children – $15 
Family Tickets (2 adults + 2 children) – $107 
Under 25s – $25     Groups – (6+) $39; (20+) $36 
Presented by arrangement with Playmarket
BOOKINGS:  Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki Street, Wellington 
Phone 801 7992

Marjory Daw / Russian Count:  JUDE GIBSON
Squire Diddly Squat / Henchman:  JOHN WRAIGHT

Stage Manager:  Eric Gardiner
Technical Operator:  Ashlyn Smith
Sound Consultant:  Oceania Audio
Choreography:  Jude Gibson
Sound:  Paul Stent, Susan Wilson
Publicity:  Claire Treloar
Graphic Design:  Rose Miller, Kraftwork
Photography:  Stephen A’Court
House Manager:  Suzanne Blackburn
Front of House:  Linda Wilson

Theatre , Pantomime , Family , Children’s ,

Panto keeps laughter coming and coming

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 18th Nov 2013

This year’s Christmas festivities have started with an explosion of fun and laughter. The opening night audience, young and old, at the end of Mother Goose poured into the foyer beaming and chattering having been royally entertained.   

It is certainly the most consistently funny panto I have seen in a long time. It is taken at lightning speed that rarely lets up and it reaches a climax in the second half that is worthy of the Marx Brothers as a villainous Russian count, who knows a thing or two about Faberge eggs, gets his comeuppance in a rugby game which seems to be refereed by Carmen Miranda (Google if you’re under 40) while the audience does a Mexican wave.

What’s more it’s a traditional panto. John Hodgkins’ simple setting reminded me of pantos I saw in my childhood despite the backdrop having a wind turbine on the skyline. There are short, tuneful, amusing songs from the late Paul Jenden (to whose memory this show is dedicated) and Gareth Farr, and the funny choreography is by Jude Gibson who also plays the villain and a social climber.

There is plenty of trad audience participation and a non-stop stream of topical and corny jokes. And hidden among them (you have to be quick) are some very risqué ones but they will sail safely over the heads of the young. It even has a transformation scene when Gavin Rutherford’s libidinous Mother Goose swans about vacuum-packed in a glamorous dress and outrageous wig.

Mother Glenda Goose’s attempts to thwart John Wraight’s Squire Diddly Squat who plans to build a motorway through her poultry farm, Capital Eggs, as she attempts at the same time to lose weight and have a facelift. Then Goosey (Lyndee-Jane Rutherford with a wonderful gravelly squawk) lays a golden egg and enter the villains.

The entire cast revel in all the hilarious fun and the sexual confusions (or “transgander” as Glenda says) which are even more complex than those in a Shakespearian comedy. This is a panto that comes out of the closet in the best possible way – with humour.


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All elements of panto truly honoured

Review by Maryanne Cathro 17th Nov 2013

Mother Goose is a bit of a watershed for Circa pantos. Instead of Roger Hall, Michele Amas has stepped up with a fresh new style. Instead of Michael Nicholas Williams directing the music, Michelle Scullion is “Mrs Music.” And of course the late Paul Jenden’s clever lyrics still sparkle throughout the tunes written by Gareth Farr, but his presence on stage was missed.

So, it is unsettling in a genre not known for its changes. The plot, humour and characters are sharper, funnier and more original than in the past. However musically this panto is the weakest to date. While I enjoy the quirky use of various instruments and sound-making devices, the show lacks strong musical leadership, with singers hard to hear and sound out of balance, and Farr’s great music not as well framed. I cannot remember a single tune. In fact, the song in my head afterwards is the one conspicuous in its absence: ‘The Pantomime Whirl’. Where is it?

In every other way however, I enjoy this panto the most to date. We laugh ourselves silly and there are plenty of audience participation moments. 

The story goes like this: Mother Glenda Goose owns Capital Eggs, a free range egg farm in Nurseryville somewhere in the Hutt Valley, helped by her feisty daughter Jill, Simple Simon who is an inspiring fashion designer, and Goosy Gander who is undergoing a gender identity crisis. The farm backs onto a golf course where Squire Diddly Squat spends most of his time, caddied by his son Jack, who is in love with Jill.

The Squire, in his capacity as town planner, has decided to save his precious 18th hole from a new six lane expressway by diverting it right past the farm, compromising the organic, free range status of the farm, and forcing a confrontation between Jack and Jill over his priorities. Simon is missing Jill’s brother Colin who has moved to Auckland, and isn’t returning his texts, Facebook messages or tweets.

Glenda is obsessed with regaining her youthful looks and figure, but with no money in eggs and no decent compensation coming her way, she has no means to buy it. What ensues is a series of events I cannot reveal without spoiling the plot but involve Russian Count Face, his henchman, a kidnapping, Hobbitophobia, sequins and a bathtub.

As we have come to expect, Gavin Rutherford’s dame is the lynch pin holding it all together. Who knows how many of his ad libs are rehearsed, but he deals with adults and children alike hilariously. Like Edina Monsoon from AbFab, his character is an irresponsible brat being mothered by a sensible prefect-like offspring, which seems to delight the children present. 

(Speaking of the children present, they are great. Sometimes the kids in the audience don’t seem to know their part in a panto, but this lot are booing and awwing and “He’s Behind You”- ing and “Oh yes it is” –ing from the very start. Definite rent-an-audience potential there.) 

Everyone performs their roles with great energy. John Wraight plays the Squire and Count Face’s henchman with his usual slapstick energy, Lyndee-Jane Rutherford pours plenty of physical humour and expression into Goosy, Jude Gibson’s Marjorie Dawe and Count Face are both beautifully and intensely rendered. Richard Osborne’s Jack and Kathleen Burns’ Jill are equally young, romantic and naïve.

If I may play favourites however, I nominate Simon Leary’s Simon. He handles the only character not predefined by panto-lore as if it always has been. He is camp but naturally so, delivers some excellent one liners, and is great with the kids on stage. Breaking new ground is tough and Leary seems to pitch it just right.

Panto is a traditional theatre form with archetypal characters, forms of audience participation and story arcs that haven’t really changed in decades. However, sometimes the underlying themes have been lost in the quest for humour at the surface. Redemption, comeuppance and cleverness rewarded are essential for the moral satisfaction of both kids and adults alike, as are the two levels of humour: one for the kids and one that flies over their heads for the benefit of the adults.

Amas has truly honoured all of these elements. Her script allows characters to get into peril, her villains to be truly villainous, her heroes to be heroic. And the adult humour is more pointed than ever – so much so I doubt any of the children would have a clue what the adults are laughing at. I hope not anyway! 

Jennifer Lal’s lights and John Hodgkins’ set are the best yet. The animated hens are a whole show in themselves; the trolleys are a great device and their entrance and exit onto the stage is funny in its own right. Lighting atmosphere is always just so.

All in all, this is a superb night out for the whole family, or if you have no children to take, go anyway. We are all children at heart, after all.


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