After Andrew Lancel was forced to drop out as the star name for the show, Bread’s Jonathan Morris has been promoted to the top billing and he proves himself worthy of the honour.
The Big Top is a vast space. This makes the traditional pantomime intimacy rather difficult to recreate because the cast members have to project themselves over such great distances. But Morris, as the Jester, is a hurricane of enthusiasm, running into the audience to grab volunteers for this season’s obligatory Gangnam Style routine, and encouraging many (but not all) of the adults to get up and dance when they can easily hide away in such an anonymous auditorium.
His performance holds the whole show together, perhaps to the detriment of the other comic characters - it’s hard to compete with his natural effervescence. Fairy Fifi does her best though (The Stage’s five-year-old assistant reviewer explained who she was to his clueless companion). Of Fifi and the Flowertots fame, she seems to be the star billing for the youngsters in the audience and her flower power-style portrayal is well received by those in the know.
Lewis Griffiths as the Prince and Gemma Brodrick as Princess Beauty, both do their best with dull romantic lead roles - Brodrick playing Beauty as a bit of a lovable brat and Griffiths delivering saccharine lines with charisma.
Rounding it all off is Charlotte Milchard as Carabosse (the role that Lancel was due to play) and she really is an enjoyably nasty baddie. Generating the most enthusiastic “Oh no you’re nots” of the evening, Milchard’s rather rock chick, bad girl persona is a great contrast to all the festive froth that surrounds her.