THE story of the poor boy from (in this case) Poole who goes to London, where the streets are paved with gold, to make his fortune and fulfill his destiny is a pantomime perennial – with plenty of colourful characters, including the wicked King Rat.
It is given a bright and family-friendly sparkle at this year’s Lighthouse show, starring CBeebies favourite Chris Jarvis, who co-wrote it with producer Peter Duncan.
There are enough new jokes and new routines and slight departures from the familiar story to keep the adults happy, and plenty of audience participation for the wildly enthusiastic youngsters.
Chris Jarvis may be the children’s favourite, but Craig Rhys-Barlow’s King Rat certainly knows how to get an audience going – he is a charismatic villain, making the most of every scene, a cool con-man with a roving eye and a saucy grin.
Richard Gibson, a veteran of pantomimes and a star of the much-loved Allo Allo, has just the right blend of self-importance and charm as Alderman Fitzwarren, Katie Arundell is his charming daughter, and Dereck Walker is Dame Dolly Donuts, with an array of confectionery frocks and never missing an opportunity for a not-too-risque joke.
Dick’s sidekick is the energetic Tommy the Cat, played by Sammy Phillips, and Fairy Bowbells is Charlotte Knowles.
The rats are great – athletic and deliciously evil – and the action is fast and furious. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable traditional pantomime for all the family … oh yes, it is!