Sheffield panto is a flyaway success

Tinkerbell - Emma Holmes & Peter Pan - James Smith
Tinkerbell - Emma Holmes & Peter Pan - James Smith
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It’s just not Christmas for many Sheffielders until they’ve sung the Tiddly Winky Woo song or gleefully chucked lumps of dough at the cast of the Manor Operatic pantomime.

Every year Manor put on a great show at Sheffield City Hall, combining comedy and spectacle with a host of local talent, and Peter Pan this year is no exception.

Pirates Holly Parker-Strawson, Simon Hance, Chris Hanlon and Andy Finnerty

Pirates Holly Parker-Strawson, Simon Hance, Chris Hanlon and Andy Finnerty

Audience members who trudged through the snow enjoyed a treat that would have thrilled Brian Platts, the Manor guiding light and much-loved Dame for many years.

He died just over a year ago but co-directors, producers and scriptwriters Richard Bradford and Linda Kelly do him proud.

From the opening number Welcome to the Pantomime, the cast light up the stage with their enthusiasm – helped along by some clever pyrotechnics from time to time.

They are ably led by the huge figure of Robert Spink as the Dame, playing Emma the cook and amiably cracking a series of gags in his gravelly Sheffield drawl.

As always, Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday both came in for some stick, as did city MP and deputy PM Nick Clegg. You could tell that the script was written earlier this year as there were a couple of wry references to Nigella Lawson and white powder to keep the grown-ups chuckling.

However, panto is for kids and Robert Spink is at his best in the well-controlled mayhem of the bucket game.

Calling for ‘10 children from the stalls, 10 from the circle and 10 from the upper circle’, he was soon surrounded by hundreds of eager youngsters, all rushing to sit on a bucket – think musical chairs – and win some sweets.

Peter Pan is a little problematic as a pantomime because it‘s harder to work the knockabout slapstick into the story but there’s plenty of fun with Simon Hance as Captain Hook and his motley crew – cue a running gag about the rock band – played by Chris Hanlon, Holly Parker Strawson and Andy Finnerty. The 14-foot crocodile is a great sight to see and the scene where Peter and the Darling children fly over London looks very impressive.

The show runs until January 4.