Civic regulars husband-and-wife Linda Lusardi and Sam Kane are back where they first met 16 years ago and in top form as Carabosse and castle henchman Oddjob respectively.
Kane directs this terrific entertainment packed with comedy, magic, spectacular effects and masses of participation.
Lusardi swirls about with glamorous panache as villainous termagant. Andy Jones is a hoot with facial expressions and deliberate mistakes as Muddles. Philip Meeks is witty as Nurse Dolly in a parade of elaborate dame costumes.
With perfect comic timing and impromptu asides, Kane is pivotal to the hilarity as stooge to Muddles in laughter-inducing sketches ranging from exploding guitar to a wildly messy slapstick scene and madcap Elvis routine.
An expanded role allows illusionist Philip Hitchcock’s King Stephen to counter Carabosse with spells while working confounding tricks, including making doves disappear, in a part made integral to the plot.
In lovely gowns befitting Princess Beauty, Darlington singer Zoe Birkett is a charming actress and first-rate in solos and duets with Will Tudor’s romantic Prince William.
Beautiful effects create visual magic, particularly a combat scene involving masked demons against a thicket of thorns. Traditional ghost sketch and Twelve Days of Christmas routine remain unbeatably funny treats.