TO put it into football parlance, if your Dame is a measure of how good your panto is then Sheffield’s annual offering remains not only Premiership but has nudged into the Champions League placings.
Damian Williams is the not-so-secret-weapon – the comic striker that every team wants - and this time around his costumes have got that little bit more outrageous, such that he only has to stroll on as Nurse Nellie to have us creasing up.
Throw in outfits that even incorporate Supertram, in the now expected blatant sponsorship spot and the cosmetic products-based story routine and Evolution’s panto is predictably brilliant.
But one Dame does not a panto make and you cannot help but think Margi Clarke’s replacement of the poorly Beverley Callard as evil fairy Maleficent was serendipity at its most fortuitous.
The Scouse actress (Tyrone’s mum in Corrie, as she reminds us) wonderfully ups the evil stakes and is the ideal contrast for Dani Rayner’s perfect Princess Aurora aka Beauty.
We’re still a tad mystified why director Paul Hendy gave her Prince Phillip – equally fine singer Jo Parsons – an American accent, but alongside Cbeebies presenter Sid Sloane as Jangles the Jester their energy and enthusiasm holds attention amid a strong team of supporting good fairy dancers and a talented locally-selected ensemble.
Rotherham-born actor Ian Chaplain is memorable as the king who cannot say the letter R, but special mention must go to the costumers and set designers who ensure this is surely one of the country’s most lavish productions. Complete with a huge dragon, a few jokes that skilfully go over younger heads, and a script that doesn’t patronise, this is arguably the Lyceum’s strongest and most enjoyable panto yet. You have until January 8 to catch it.