This year’s panto is the best I’ve seen

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I’ll get straight to the point – I reckon that this year’s pantomime at the Kings Theatre in Southsea is the best one that I’ve seen.

I was sitting in the back row of the dress circle (in my opinion the spot with the greatest view) ready to watch one of my favourite Christmas-time traditions.

Of course, after being part of the pantomime cast two years ago in Sleeping Beauty, I now watch through different eyes, knowing all the hard work and sweat that goes on behind the scenes.

But to be honest, the show was so good and entertaining that I forgot about what the audience can’t see as I was enthralled by what was happening on the stage right in front of me.

This year’s pantomime is Cinderella and the souvenir programme tells me it’s the 22nd time that it’s been at the Kings and it’s the theatre’s most popular panto.

Anita Harris has enjoyed a career spanning over 50 years in film, television and theatre and is top of the bill playing the evil Baroness.

Her experience is clear to see, playing her role with perfection, getting boos from the audience and mesmerising them with her singing voice.

James ‘Arg’ Argent from TV series The Only Way Is Essex co-stars in his first-ever pantomime, playing Dandini.

His inexperience didn’t show and his entrances got loud cheers from the crowd. He proved he can sing too.

There were plenty of laughs from the Ugly Sisters. The storyline suggests that the audience are supposed to dislike them and give them plenty of loud jeers, but they were both so likeable and when they were on stage I couldn’t help but smile.

Jack Edwards was Rita and the equally outrageous Phil Randall was Cheryl.

They both had the audience in stitches, sometimes just with their choice of outfit.

The highlight for me was Matt Dallen, who played Buttons. His unforgettable performance gave the audience exactly what they wanted from a pantomime – lots of silliness to make you belly laugh and loads of opportunities to join in with the show, whether you’re nine or 90.

He had the audience in stitches during the Twelve Days Of Christmas sketch. I won’t give anything away, but keep your eyes on the toilet rolls.

The cast is completed by Emily Trebicki who plays Cinderella, Jordan Adams as Prince Charming, Kings favourite Christopher Marlowe as Baron Hardup and Justin Marie Mead as the Fairy Godmother.

They were all fantastic with no weak link. There are many pantomimes up and down the country, but I wonder how any of them can be as good as what’s on offer at the Kings?