Flying Reindeers over the audience, jokes for young and old alike, colourful costumes along with a traditional storyline can only mean one thing – pantomime is back.
Starring in his 22nd Bradford pantomime, Yorkshire comedian Billy Pearce could not contain his excitement as he appeared in what is rightly regarded as one of the best pantomimes in the north.
Sleeping Beauty at the Bradford Alhambra
As he appeared from behind a brick wall, it was hard not to share his enthusiasm. “This year I am called King Billy, last year I was called unemployed” he joked. It was the first of many jokes that showed why Pearce is a master of comedy.
Set naturally in The Reet Royal City of Alhamraton, the opening song ‘We’re putting on a show’ was an apt way of describing this spectacular pantomime.
Whilst some of the jokes might have taken some explaining to the children on the way home, others were more topical: “We had a brilliant party last Christmas, we all went down to Number 10”, continued Pearce.
Making only his second panto appearance, TV’s Dr Ranj took to the stage with ease as the Royal Physician. Although not known for singing, he excelled on the BTS hit, Dynamite. Ranj has adapted well to the stage and there was a natural chemistry between him and King Billy.
Liz Ewing played Queen Carabosse with an evil steeliness that was enough for the many boos and hisses that were directed towards her. Brogan McFarlane was sweet and innocent as Princess Aurora which contrasted well with the cool couldn’t-care-less teenager, Princess Narcissa – even when the jokes were flowing thick and fast her face never moved.
Sabrina Alouechie charmed as the Good Fairy from Cottingley, though I doubt that many fairies have such a powerful singing voice.
Playing in Bradford until 16 January
There were some hilarious scenes, such as The Trunk of Truth where Peace gets an item of clothing pulled off him every time he tells a lie. The 12 Days of Christmas routine might have been done many times before in panto, but it is still as infectious as the first time I saw it performed.
The old Petula Clark song Downtown was born again as Lockdown, with some very cleverly sung words about the last 18 months – a stroke of genius from whoever wrote the new lyrics.
A quick-paced and thoroughly entertaining show that guaranteed that there was no snoozing for the audience in this high-level version of a much-loved classic. Pure joy from start to finish.
Runs until Sunday 16 January 2022: www.bradford-theatres.co.uk