Circa Theatre’s Christmas pantomime this year is Puss in Boots. It’s a tale as old as time, if that tale were set in the wilds of Te Aro and Karori and featured many dick jokes, jabs at Gareth Morgan and fantastical dance numbers.

It’s 2018. Or there abouts. Camilla Miller – a grieving widow woman – and her son Arthur Miller (yes, I know) have just discovered that they’re out of money. Their mill has run dry and the man of the house has run off to the forest to find himself. What are they to do? Well, Camilla insists that Arthur must find a wife – who comes in the form of Martha, the daughter of King Justin (yes, that Justin) who vehemently doesn’t want to get married. Many hi-jinks happen, there is a significant amount of capering, and the Puss (in Boots) turns up to save the day.

It is all very fun.

Obviously, it is a panto, so there are a lot of children about – and there even is a moment where the kids get to go up on stage and play around within one of the scenes – so you might want to give this one a miss if that’s not quite your style. However, I wasn’t at all bored and found a lot of fun within the show – especially within the raunchy jokes that the kids wouldn’t quite have gotten. There was a fantastic moment that felt fairly off the cuff involving a cucumber and two Pak ‘n’ Save reusable bags, but I’ll leave that up to your imagination.

The cast perform a variety of dance and song numbers across the entire show. There was, of course, the old panto favourite – Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl performed by our leading man in the process of wooing his inevitable love (Arthur, to Martha) – plus a handful of new and unique pieces. I particularly enjoyed a version of Anna Kendrick’s Cups (When I’m Gone) performed by the King and Martha, with some very tricky choreography and many cup-based skills.

Also, don’t get me started on the choreography! The whole show was choreographed excellently, with some very strong dancers and singers. Ben Emerson had incredible stage presence as Arthur, and Carrie Green delighted with her incredible voice as one of the trolls (the antagonists). Jonathan Morgan had an hilarious and very sassy take on the Puss, and The Dame (Gavin Rutherford) had an easy rapport with the audience and truly made the piece what it was.

It was very welcome to see such a strong cast overall, though.

Puss in Boots is fun for the whole family, and is absolutely worth seeing. It’s enjoyable for both the child and the child-at-heart.

(I’ll be completely honest, though, I didn’t expect quite so much Fortnite dancing in a pantomime, but times have obviously changed. It was certainly a unique take, that’s for sure!)


Puss in Boots is on now until the 23rd of December 2018 at Circa Theatre in Wellington. Tickets are available from Circa’s website.