If the audience comes out smiling at the end then it’s been a successful show.
And it that’s the acid test then Huddersfield Light Opera Company (is there a heavy one?) has served up another panto winner in this, its 40th panto which also marks the 21st anniversary of the LBT.
No professional panto is staged in Huddersfield so this amateur company has been filling that void for four decades and mainstays Chris Brearley as the dame and Neil Broadbent as his silly sidekick have become more like familiar chums than actors to the audiences.
The demand is clearly there. Last year ticket sales reached 96% capacity and this year advance sales had already passed 70% weeks before the show’s run started.
This year Chris, who is also the show’s producer, is Nurse Nellie and Neil is his son, Cheeky Charlie. Cue wisecracks, gags and slapstick scenes such as the age-old attempt to redecorate a room that ends in oh-so-predictable disaster.
Personally I’d always bring a professional for wallpapering, but that probably wouldn’t be as funny.
The princess is played by Alyce Liburd in her first panto – but you’d think she’d already done a few. Her competence, confidence and natural charm shone through – and she can sing as well. She’s a great addition to the cast.
Zoe Clarkson is a great narrator as Septic Peg – a name that belies her exotic accent – while you don’t have one but three godmothers in Helen Woodhead, Jayne Davison and Louisa LeFevre who work well off one another and Sharon Whitehead is a natural in the role as the evil Carabosse. Hang on, is that a good thing to say?
The impressive young dancers are from The Strickland Cook Theatre School and it’s a great showcase for them, an opportunity they clearly relish.
Songs you can join in with include Relight My Fire, I Wanna Dance With Somebody and MacArthur Park. Don’t want to? Oh please yourself then.
Many of the gags are squeaky clean such as “I was told I was colour blind – it came like a bolt from the orange” but there’s a character in lampooning magazine Viz called Finbarr Saunders who is known for his never-ending double entendres.
You’d have thought he’d had a hand in some of the script and there’s one or two fairy jokes that push boundaries a tad too far.
Nurse Nellie gets through more frocks than there are in Dame Edna Everage’s wardrobe and, as for the make-up, who did that, Slap n’ Tickle.
Better stop now, they’re setting me off.
Sleeping Beauty is on at the LBT until this Saturday with shows at 6.15pm on Wednesday and Thursday, 7.15pm on Friday and at 1.30pm and 5.30pm on Saturday.
For more www.thelbt.org.uk