It comes as a pleasant surprise to find such an impressive theatre space attached to a school. But there is nothing school-production-like about this traditional-as-mince-pies offering, which proves that you don’t have to throw the baby out with the bath water to entertain a modern panto crowd. Where some contemporary casts only pay lip service to the audience participation, a committed and talented cast really throw themselves into the call and response sections, and are rewarded with rapturous contributions from the kids.
But there are some novel touches to Anton Benson’s production, with some well-chosen songs drawn from The Lion King and Wicked, toe-tappingly orchestrated by musical director Will Joy, with the highlights coming from Brigid Lohrey’s assuredly villainous Carabosse and Tamsin Winstanley as a delightfully daffy, helium-voiced Good Fairy. The only musical misstep is a strangely out of place version of Britney’s Hit Me Baby One More Time, replete with dancing schoolgirls. But elsewhere, Amy Diamond is every little girl’s idea of a fairytale princess and - as befitting a finalist from BBC One’s Over the Rainbow talent show - can certainly belt out a ballad. Scott Wright gamely throws himself into the role of Prince Percy - literally in the knockabout comedy scenes with Ryan Greaves’ likeable Muddles and Steve Moorewood’s pitch-perfect dame Norah - while former EastEnder David Spinx brings a laid-back, dry wit to his role as the King.