it’s amateur panto season folks - oh yes it is - and time to see your relatives, friends and neighbours dress up in outrageous costumes, crack silly jokes and behave like big kids.
For most companies, it’s the best-selling show of the year and large audiences are rewarded with lively, engaging shows which reflect the dedication of cast and crew.
Handsworth & Hallam Theatre Company have pulled a cracker out of the bag, with their production of the rarely-performed Mother Goose at the Montgomery Theatre this week.
The principals are better than some professional performers I’ve seen, costumes and scenery are fabulous and there’s even a hot-air ballon to add to the wow factor.
References to Harry Potter and Priscilla Queen of the Desert update the traditional tale of a poverty stricken family whose life is changed by a goose which lays a golden egg.
Matthew Walker is outstanding in the role of the dame Mother Goose, projecting the character and his voice well as he joshes with the audience and asserts his authority.
Joseph Walker piles on the humour as the dame’s energetic son Silly Billy, establishing a great rapport with the audience in a top-notch performance.
And Josh Holliday gives it plenty of attitude as Priscilla The Goose, a role which he milks for all its worth.
Andrew Stansall and Ria Westhead make a good pairing as sweethearts Jack and Jill, their duet of I’m A Believer is one of the high spots of Act One.
Manic laughs echoing across the stage send the chill factor up the spine in a terrific performance by Luke Harriott as Demon Night while Amy Roe-Parkin is every girl’s idea of a fairy in her sugar pink dress and illuminated wand.
The children dance like a dream and are a credit to choreographers Hayley Wilbourne and Katie Mather and assistant choreographer Beth Dray.
This egg-stra special panto is a great debut for new director Chris Badham and a feather in the cap of musical director Steve Trotter. Catch it at the Montgomery Theatre until Saturday, January 30.