The show almost didn’t go on when the company scheduled to fill Middleton Arena’s Christmas slot suddenly withdrew two weeks before opening night. Fortunately PMA Productions stepped in, packaging and delivering an entirely new production in nine days. The end result is no scratch panto but a high-quality, nine-day wonder, with script, direction and performances focusing on the traditional good triumphing over bad story alongside toe-tapping songs ranging from music hall to pop.
Perhaps costumes and scene changes look a tad samey and there are too many hit and miss verbal gags for youngsters to swallow, but the acting remains bang on target, notably John Thomson tripling as Alderman Fitzwarren, the Captain and the Sultan, Mark Homer’s cheeky Idle Jack and Sophie Michaels’ tomboyish Alice falling for Ross Cobbold’s cool Dick.
While the kids boo their tonsils out whenever Stephen Donald’s fabulously ferocious King Rat runs amok, the biggest boobs are to be found on Keith De’Winter’s raucously funny Sally R Peabody, an old school dame with the gift of the gab.
Karen Heritage’s choreography keeps everyone on their pins, including the hard-working Janice Hughes School of Dance troupe, in an audience-friendly production that ticks all the right boxes.