Bognor Regis delights with the very essence of panto

Jack and the Beanstalk, Regis Centre, Bognor, until Sunday, January 2.

Bognor Regis panto - pic by youreventphotography.co.uk
Bognor Regis panto - pic by youreventphotography.co.uk

As ever, Bognor distils the very essence of panto and delivers it beautifully.

You will see plenty of pantos far more lavish than this one, with plenty of over-the-top special effects. But Bognor shows us that that really isn’t what pantomime is all about.

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It’s about heart. It’s about spirit. And Bognor gives us an abundance of both in a show to savour.

Katie Bennett is a complete delight as Princess Rose; and Bognor panto regular Vicky Edwards is impressively regal and great good fun as The Queen. And very game too. After all, there won’t be many queens this Christmas who get multiple custard pies in the face up to three times a day.

Riley Clark is nicely evil as Fleshcreep the villain, Kate Richards is rhymingly sweet as the good fairy; Daniel Nyari is great as Jack; and David Rumelle is all you could want in a dame.

But as much as this is clearly a team effort by a team working supremely well together, this is Joey Wilby’s show as Silly Billy.

18-year-old Wilby gives a remarkably assured performance, huge on energy and huge on confidence. He drives the show – and his sheer enthusiasm for the task is infectious.

We have also got a strong dancing ensemble and, rare this year, a cast of sweet kiddies to add the ahhh factor. And cow and giant are both effectively done.

Put it all together, and it’s a show which charms, full of song and wit and sparkle. As ever, Bognor sets the panto standard – with the same icing on the cake that we always get at the Regis Centre. It’s simply one of the friendliest, most welcoming theatres around.