A fire alarm going off in the first few seconds of the show is probably not what the cast of Dearne Playhouse’s Dick Whittington would have wanted on their opening night.
But as special effects smoke billowed from a trap door triggering the alarm bells, Joe Hodgkinson, playing King Rat, coped with the distracting situation admirably.
And after overcoming that hurdle, it was a case of the show must go on with the usual feast of “oh no it isn’ts,” slapstick, songs and laughs in a compact and cosy production.
The aforementioned Hodgkinson stole the show, relishing and revelling in his role as the villain of the piece, adding just the right amount air of menace to his performance as he scampered around the stage,
Laughs came from James Harris as Idle Jack and Jeff Riley as Alderman Fitzwarren, whose bumbling, stuttering delivery had the audience in stitches.
Numerous local references were chucked into the mix and one poor unfortunate on the front row was given the task of blowing up a lilo - don’t ask! The show featured plenty of songs both old and new with the likes of Katrina and The Waves’ Walking On Sunshine and Kung Fu Fighting by Carl Douglas mingling alongside the ubiquitous song of 2014, Happy by Pharrell Williams.
And of course, there was plenty of innuendo from Tommy Roberts, who showed touches of Little Britain’s Matt Lucas as he camped it up as Dame Sarah Shufflebucket.
The two leading ladies, Kerry Jo Horbury as Dick Whittington and Erika Wilkinson as Alice Fitzwarren, indulged in plenty of traditional thigh slapping and confidently sang their way through as the production reached its traditional wedding finale.
And of course, a panto wouldn’t be a panto without a local dance troupe, with youngsters from the Wendy Charles School of Dance adding sparkle to the colourful proceedings, which included a fantastic array of costumes and wigs.
* Darren Burke