Southsea's Jack Edwards steals the show as Widow Twankey | BBC Radio Solent's Lou Hannan

‘Tis the season to be jolly…parties, gatherings, meals out.

Tuesday, 31st December 2019, 3:34 pm
Jack Edwards as Widow Twankey. Picture: Sarah Standing (120819-2927)

This is just what a few of my colleagues and myself did the other week as an end of year treat.

Drinks in a local bar, a meal at the fantastic Akash restaurant in Southsea, followed by… the panto!

I’ll be honest, it’s not necessarily where I thought I’d end up on a night out with two grown men.

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However, my co-presenter Alun and our producer, Warren, were more than up for a night at the theatre.

We started off with a drink locally.

Much as I love Christmas gatherings, I’m not a fan of the crowded bar, full of tipsy people shouting at each other in order to get heard.

Then there’s the bar queue.

For some reason I become invisible at a bar when there’s more than three people waiting.

I remember the busy bar being described once as being like the human version of jazz music. Very apt.

From a swift drink, we moved onto the great British tradition on a night out – a curry.

The Akash on Albert Road was our choice. Always guaranteed the best meal and a warm welcome, too.

Alun even designed his own naan topping.

Onto the Kings Theatre then for Aladdin.

It was my first time seeing panto here and it didn’t disappoint.

A fabulous cast, headlined by Boyzone star Shane Lynch who made the perfect Abanazar. Providing some real energy as he bounced on stage just before the interval was Phats and Small’s Ben Ofoedu as the Genie.

Without doubt, though, the star of the show was the Kings panto regular and creative director of the venue, Jack Edwards, who returned as the Dame, Widow Twankey this year.

His comedy timing, strong vocals, and ability to ad lib hilariously when things don’t go quite according to plan, left me in awe.

I’ve seen Jack owning the West End stage too, and now with his new role at the Kings combined with his annual panto outing, it just goes to show what a versatile man he is and how theatre runs in his blood.

Not a conventional works night out, granted, but fantastic fun nonetheless!​​​​​.