First, I should probably point out that I am not a huge panto fan. However, like most parents, I feel somewhat obliged to take my kids to see something festive, so when the opportunity came up to work with Visit Essex and Southend Theatres as part of a of series of mid-Winter day trips and activities, I… well, I wouldn’t say jumped at the chance, but I certainly welcomed the opportunity.
If that all sounds a little negative, I have to immediately caveat that it was, without doubt, the best panto I have ever seen. Even for the non-panto fan, it was funny, warm-hearted and very impressive in terms of production standards, performances etc. Brian Conley was a consummate professional: lively, silly, energetic and did amazingly at keeping the audience entertained and engaged. There was of course the usual panto innuendo, but this wasn’t too cringey, and even got a few genuine laughs out of old Scrooge here, as well as my increasingly cynical 11 year old daughter.
The story actually veered off-course a little, with some back story about Cinders and the Prince meeting earlier in the week and getting to know each other a bit rather than falling in love at first sight because of a pretty face, which very much appealed to the feminist in me.
On top of all that, it just looked great – the costumes were properly amazing and there were some great special effects too, the whole thing was very impressive.
So yes, it’s a thumbs up from me, and if this pantophobe had a good time, I would say quite confidently that anyone would!