How I love a pantomime, I don’t think I have missed one since the first I saw in 1959. I was three and it was Humpty Dumpty, Liverpool Empire with Tommy Steele! Year on year I have indulged in a seasonal smattering of “he’s behind you” and “Oh yes he is” and I never tire of it. I even survived the soap and pop years when casts were padded out with TV and chart stars, and not often that successfully, and I have come to terms reluctantly with the demise of the principal boy concept in an age when gender issues have become such a hot political topic.
Brighton Family Panto company have brought pantomime back to Brighton with a respect for the art form, yes I think it’s an art, and they do it with style. Give me traditional every time and this years offering is proper, from the right story, the right costumes and set and a cast that give it their all.
From the very start this is a glittering spectacle suitable for all, there’s stuff for the tiniest of kids and stuff from the grown ups too. It’s saucy in parts but stays just on the right side of smutty, well just, after all this is Brighton and Hove and even the kids have a very raised level of sophistication when it comes to lashings of double entendres.
There are some real notables in the company too, great dancers, one of whom has a grin so broad his face must ache for days after, a good live band, no pre-record here and it really does show and a set and lighting that really shines.
The whole opens, stop making up your own gags, with the fairy godmother and the richly voiced Sharon Starr. Cinderella is perfectly pitched by Ellie Earl who looks and sounds exactly as the eponymous heroine should. Liam Joseph’s Dandini is the campest aide de camp I have ever seen and could only have been camper had he been sporting the traditional fishnet stockings of Dandinis of a bygone age. Josh Hanson is a shrill ugly sister here called Barbie, topical as all good pantomimes should be, a wiry diva more in the Ru Paul camp than a Les Dawson or John Inman but very funny none the less.
Local drag star Jason Sutton is a far more trad representation of dame and has a wardrobe of fabulous funny frocks and exudes comic charm as always.
Carl Lovejoy is a brilliantly loveable Buttons, a role that he executes with conviction, sad that he only gets to exercise that fantastic voice in the final ensemble number, give the boy a solo please. Kane Matthews plays Prince Charming with an air of naivety when seen against the exuberant Dandini and when he gets his solo number, wow he really comes into his own, stop , what have I told you about making up your own gags!
Allison Ferns returns this time as the Baroness Hardup and nails it, a great voice and she milks those boos and hisses for all they are worth, the company must be fighting hard to keep her in the team as she is panto class and very poachable!
Husband Baron Hardup is a surprise in act two when the director, and co-writer with Tim Slater, David Hill turns up wearing a moustache borrowed from me, the cheek of it!
Yes, I loved it once again and I am full of praise for this team for keeping panto alive and kicking.
That’s my last review for 2023. A year of highs and a few lows so it is great to go out on a high. Merry whatsit and happy new thingy!
Double Tree by Brighton Hilton Metropole