Traditional pantomime fun was alive and kicking as hundreds of people saw the start of the Kings Theatre’s festive production.
Jack and the Beanstalk landed at the Southsea venue last night and with it a frenzy of bright and beautiful costumes, lavish sets and some good-old fashioned family fun.
There were jeers as Blackweed – played by the imposing Anne Hegerty, The Governess on ITV’s The Chase – took to the stage.
Although there were then plenty of cheers for the hero Jack, who was being played by Ciarán Butler, who won the crowd over with his boyish charm.
The story, put together by New Pantomime Productions, sticks to the original fairytale, with a few twists and surprises thrown in.
It sees Jack sell the family cow for some magic beans, and then follows him as he climbs the beanstalk and defeats baddie Blackweed.
Hollywood heartthrob Marcus Patrick played a dashing King, while some sweetness and light was brought into the production by the Fairy Godmother, played by TV legend Vicki Michelle, best known for her role in ’Allo ’Allo.
No pantomime would be complete without at least one reality TV star, and the Albert Road show proudly brought Jade Ellis, who took part in 2012’s X Factor.
Jade’s strong vocals really made the night one to enjoy. And the other major character, Simple Simon, who was played by Matt Dallen, who also starred in last year’s Cinderella, also made an impact and won the audience over.
Enjoying the show was nine-year-old Kayleigh Stray, who was with her cousin Anthony O’Brien, eight, his mum Sadie Sprake and nan Sally Stray, 57.
Kayleigh said: ‘I love the pantomime, it’s my favourite thing. I said to my nan that I wish it was me performing on that stage.’
Sally, from Buckland, said: ‘The kids really love it as they all shout and get involved.’
At the end of the performance a touching tribute was made to Sandra Smith, who is retiring after working at the theatre for more than 30 years.
She was invited on to the stage and made an ambassador of the theatre by Ron Hasker, chairman of the Kings Theatre Trust.
Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Cllr David Fuller congratulated her and praised the show.
He said: ‘What a marvellous show we have seen this evening. It was very very good – well performed with excellent scenery.’
Speaking after the show Anne said: ‘It is my fourth panto but my first one here.
‘It is a fabulous theatre. I was told that Southsea audiences were really good and they are. It is brilliant.’
The show is on until Sunday. January 1. Adult tickets cost from £20, with discounts and other packages available. To book call (023) 9282 8282 or see kingsportsmouth.co.uk