This week’s panto takes the pea out of TV smash-hit show Bake Off and the oppressive, hard to reach by public transport town of Chesterfield .
The Princess & the Pea is populated with characters such as Sweet Pea, Pc Pod and Flop Pea the horse and its title gives scope for jokes relating to the bodily function.
It also begs, borrows and steals elements from other fairy tales including Cinderella and Hansel and Gretel.
Nowhere does this panto sell its audience short. Particularly good is the choice of songs, with the younger members of the audience latching on to Let It Go and Love Is An Open Door from the Frozen movie and Everything Is Awesome, a favourite in Lego movie. Parents and grandparents are taken on a trip down memory lane with Adam & The Ants hits and Ken Dodd’s golden oldie Happiness.
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Duets are especially well performed. Leading lady Ella Thompso, playing Sweet Pea, has a pretty voice to match her look and copes well with the tricky vocal acrobatics
posed by Defying Gravity, supported by Alice Shaw in the role of sister Rose.
Ella’s voice blends well wite that of Annie Allen who plays Prince Charming and their rendition of Can You Feel The Love Tonight? is among the panto’s highlights.
What is admirable about this panto is that the young people are its stars, from Alfie Hulbert’s shining performance as Buttons to the delightful dancing girls to the cute choir of singing children.
Chris Tupling does the honours for the adults in the role of green-fingered Dame and is a dab hand at working the audience. Vicky Harris is a hiss-worthy witch with an outfit to die for and Peter Miles raises plenty of laughs as the gnome who pops up from time to time.
The costumes are a work of art, particularly those of the dandy highwaymen played by Becky Winstanley, Melanie Jennings and Wendy Antony.
The Princess and the Pea, written and directed by Victoria Crooks, with musical direction by Jenny Armstrong and Peter Gait, is accompanied by a live band. The panto continues its run at Hathersage Memorial Hall tonight (Friday, February 20) and tomorrow.