Brighton panto is practically perfect in every way Brighton News

From the moment I plonked my panto-primed bum on my seat in the Oxford Suite at the Metropole hotel, I had a feeling that the producers had made a wise move this year shifting their show from the soulless, cavernous Brighton Centre.

From the get go, a lot of thought and production values have been put into the set design. It’s simple but evocatively effective. But who cares about the drapes and screens, it’s surely the performers who make the show.

Without doubt the two wicked stepsisters – played with drag-tastic aplomb by Jason Sutton and Josh Hanson – were the perfect double act, bouncing verbal and physical comedy off each other like the true professionals they are and evidently having an absolute ball together at the same time.

Everybody loves a well-played baddie and Allison Ferns stepped up to the plate as arch-villain Baroness Hardup. Clearly inspired in both persona and costume by Cruella de Vil, I dare say Ms Hardup would put the fear of god into Norma Desmond on a dark night on Hollywood Boulevard never mind King’s Road in Brighton. Ferns’ rendition of Mother Knows Best from the movie Tangled was by far the most dramatically entertaining musical performance of the evening.

As with last year’s production, significant scenes relied on pop songs to carry the story forward. Thankfully, the tunes matched the performers’ voices and – although at times tenuous – resonated well with the audience. Two voices shone out: Sharon Starr as Fairy Godmother who can clearly belt out a tune and a half while creating genuine empathy and Ellie Earl – Cinders herself – whose cut-glass voice would be more than at home on the soundtrack of a Disney movie. I dare say the latter has great things ahead in musical theatre.

With larger-than-life stock characters ten to the dozen in the genre of pantomime, it can be hard for the more saccharine characters to shine. Kane Matthews – portraying Prince Charming – certainly held his own in terms of likability, vocal talent and – in true random panto style – toilet roll tossing.

The audience lapped up the Cinders and Prince Charming love story.

Liam Joseph, in the role of Dandini, was initially rather gratingly camp but rapidly became one of the genuinely most amusing members of the cast. At times he truly owned the stage – above and beyond the other players.

This year, the star of the show without doubt was Buttons played by Carl Lovejoy.

A clearly talented and incredibly likeable performer who’s equally at home working both to scripted and impromptu ad-lib, he can break the third wall of the stage with a raised eyebrow or bring the audience back to the proscenium arch with a seemingly careless flick of wrist.

It would be remiss not to mention the dance team who supported the actors throughout the show; they were a joy to watch without being too over the top.

The Brighton Family Pantomime is practically perfect.

It’s a triumph of well-crafted production and ensemble performance. Don’t turn into a pumpkin, make sure you book your ticket before midnight.

It is at the Hilton Brighton Metropole until December 30. Adult tickets from £12.50, concessions from £10 available from

Nick Mosley

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This notice was published: 2023-12-22 18:00:00

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