When you’ve seen Cinderella squeezed into enough glass slippers to fill a shoe shop or Aladdin whisked around the world so many times on his magic carpet, traditional panto presents few surprises.
Baslow Players are in the fortunate position of having a crack writing duo - Zoe Wareham and Robin Proudfoot - who pen panto scripts especially for the company.
This means that every production is box-fresh, incorporating ingenious ideas, new names and speciality songs to keep young and old engaged and entertained.
Take 3 Pigs CSI, this week’s offering which is directed by Peter Skinner. Without being a killjoy and giving the game away , it turns the children\s story on its head by retracing the tale of Wolfie and the squealing swine, Pinky, Perky and Porkie, who take the hairy one to court for demolishing their homes.
Wolfie’s fate is decided by which side of the audience sings the loudest, Top Dog (sung to the tune of Top Cat) and Hit The Road Wolf battling it out for justice.
Wolfie, aka Kate Stuart, makes an impassioned plea through a knock-out rock \n’ roll solo which is accompanied by a chorus of backing singers including Wolfie’s mum Patience, played by Jackie White.
It’s great to see youngsters being given large roles in panto instead of being tucked away in the chorus. Grace Baker, 9, Penelope Stuart 10 and Emily Watson, 15, in the roles of Pinky, Perky and Porkie are a credit to the cast, their lengthy speeches presented confidently and clearly. Equally praiseworthy is Saskia Stuart, 7, the only cast member who truly merits the first word in her character’s name, Little Jack Horner.
This is a show which begs, borrows ad steals personalities from other fairy stories and nursery rhymes. Little Red Riding Hood gives the rather tall Ashley Sharman licence to milk the laughs as the panto dame, Pruella D’Ville is a jack-booted, money-grabbing prosecution lawyer and played in sparkling form by Angela Robinson while the Fairy Godmother, in the capable hands of Sally Myatt, loves horse-racing and puts across a good defence case. Little Blue Boy is in the safe hands of Mary Russell and Little Miss Muffet is a court clerk, one of three roles played by Imogen Dowding.
Zoe Wareham is the officious judge Havey Gavelbanger who likes port and canapés. The snack-selling Trolley Dollies - aka Nick Bailey and Stuart Gillis - keep the audience refreshed and entertained throughout the interval as a warm-up for their signature spot in the second half.
The eye-catching sets are as fresh and colourful as the script and include a hospital ward, where Wolfie is confined to bed, and Baslow orchard, where the pigs reside.
This panto will make you as happy as a pig in clover. Catch it at Baslow Village Hall until Saturday, February 8, 2014.