A good panto is like a recipe; it must have all the right ingredients.
A dollop of puns, a pinch of magic and a healthy portion of singing and dancing is a must.
And with their merry band of enthusiastic players, Littlehampton Musical Comedy Society had a deliciously fun production on its hands when it brought Dick Whittington to the stage.
The story is one of the few pantomimes rooted in English folklore, and tells the tale of Dick and his cat Tom (in this case, Thomasina) as they travel to Morocco and battle against the evil King Rat, with romance discovered along the way.
It is tradition for Dick to be played by a woman, and Kelly Manchée teamed up with Jade Wadey as the loyal feline to steer a dynamic principal cast and enthusiastic dancers of all ages.
Notably energetic was Luke Scattergood in his show-stealing turn as Idle Jack. Littlehampton’s answer to Matt Lucas, his comic timing was bang on the money and he knew how to work the crowd.
Any panto worth its salt needs a good dame – and Jonathan Groves did a 360 from his day job as a funeral director to transform into the maneating (and pie-eating) Dame Dolly Dumpling. With a hat collection to make Philip Treacy blush, including flamingoes and Big Ben, he needed a neck of steel to keep them upright – and a back to match, judging by the size of the dumplings from which she gets her name.
There were puns aplenty, my favourite being a comparison of a skull and crossbones to Victoria Beckham, mixed in with some more topical jokes about our fortnightly bin collections being responsible for King Rat’s ascent. In fact, it was so jam-packed with jokes, that when an usher asked if anyone had lost a hearing aid in the foyer and a sweet old lady waved her arms around, I thought it may have been part of the act.
Neon special effects brought an underwater scene to life, and a glitter cannon added a sparkling finish.
And when the cast sang ‘Have We Entertained You?’, a spin on the Robbie Williams classic, to round off the night, the answer was a resounding yes.
In the audience was chairman of Arun District Council, Jacky Pendleton. She said: “I thought the acting was excellent and the music was brilliant, and they performed so well.
“My favourite performances were King Rat and Jack.”
The society’s next show will be Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. If you would like to join the group, call 01903 730 775 for more information.