WITH a reputation based on years of barn-storming panto successes, you know you’re on with a safe bet booking tickets for a Theatre Royal Wakefield-produced pantomime.
And this year’s effort, Cinderella, did not disappoint.
There were a few minor changes to the classic fairytale, with Georgie Ashford sweet with a side order of sass in the title role.
But it was the baddies who really shone, and Brandi Himmelreicht as Grimallova matriarch and step-mother to Cinderella, Countess Grimallova, proving to be a real scene stealer, commanding the stage with sinister physicality and toe-curling laugh to boot.
Chris Hannon, aka Topsy and Tim’s dad if you have children of a certain age, returning to Wakefield for the ninth consecutive year, led the double-act of Griselda and Gretchen Grimallova with Chris Chilton (last year’s Abanazer in Aladdin) with much hilarity.
As ever, he seemed to shine in his interactions with the audience, with kids and parents alike delighting in his embarrassing of a trio of dads. Chilton, as the slightly dimmer and more downtrodden sister, was more Ackworth miner than minor toff, and the two dames complimented each other rather than competing to out-do one another.
Baddies aside, a sprinkle of magic was provided by - in my two-year-old’s words - “fairy princess” Samantha Palin as Gloriana, while CAPA graduate Luke Harley and Sarah Louise Hughes brought both the laughs and a two for the price of one love story as Buttons and Dandina.
Theatre Royal Wakefield’s panto would not be complete without showcasing the talents of the city’s youngest stars of the stage, and the young performers did a fantastic job with Louise Dension’s challenging choreography.
Get your tickets booked if you want your Christmas started with a bang - and a belly full of laughs.
Theatre Royal Wakefield, until January 6.
Box office: 01924 211311.