At its best, panto is an ensemble affair and each member of this Aylesbury cast contributes to a slick and feel-good production.
Every ingredient has been thrown into the mix – from Dick Whittington defeating the Queen Rat in a lip-sync battle to a UV under-the-sea light show – but director Chris Nelson (also playing Alderman Fitzwarren and the Sultan) and nifty choreographer Nikki Wilkes keep the action flowing at an incredible pace.
One or two of the musical numbers could be cut, but it’s easy to see why Nelson wanted to show off the vocals of X Factor divas Sam Bailey and Melanie Masson. When Bailey’s feisty Fairy Bowbells goes up against Masson’s convincingly dastardly Queen Rat, vocal fireworks fly.
There’s also a little bit of magic during the Act I finale, when Dick dreams of being the lord mayor of London against a golden tableau of church bells ringing.
Elsewhere, Rachael Louise Miller and Kristopher Milnes, as Alice Fitzwarren and Dick, create the central love story in a charming fashion, and Jason Sutton’s Sarah the Cook has great fun with an innuendo-laden script.
Keeping the energy high, and providing the lion’s share of the laughs, is Aylesbury’s own Andy Collins, a favourite with the audience – and it’s not difficult to see why.