It is a pleasure to see this beautiful old listed building being used, let alone filled to the rafters with a noisy and appreciative audience. And Extravaganza Productions delivers a handsome and lavish show that ably matches the finery of its surroundings.
The scenery and costumes are sumptuous and this quality extends to the musical numbers, beginning with choreographer James Robinson’s slickly staged Who Will Buy from Oliver!, finely sung by Emma Vinette Woods’s Alice Fitzwarren, supported by a talented ensemble of young dancers and backed by a very lively and accomplished four-piece band.
Also in good voice is Ian Curran, even if his Dick Whittington is a touch bland. The script also leaves a lot to be desired, with jokes and routines that are corny even by panto standards, and John Challis - Boycie from Only Fools and Horses - enjoyably villainous as King Rat, isn’t given nearly enough to do.
But Gary Damer, recognisable to the kids from CBBC’s Hotel Trubble, is a great Idle Jack and has a winning way with the little ones, especially in the show’s big front of curtain final sing-along. And the story picks up with an impressively realised, monstrous Sinbad-like sea serpent and a witty ultraviolet underwater creature sequence in the pacier ship-bound second half.