The cast and crew of Birmingham Hippodrome’s pantomime have blatantly missed the shows that never went ahead while the doors were closed and the stage went dark.
So their triumphant return to the stage is a joyous delight, celebrating everything that makes theatre great and has established pantomime as a long-running British tradition.
The show takes the traditional tale of Goldilocks and The Three Bears – with the famous porridge and bed scene incidentally only taking up two minutes of the play - and transports it into the colourful world of the circus.
Everything in the plot then revolves around performers dedicating their lives to making the best show imaginable for audiences and the thrill that taking part in the show entails.
It’s a perfect love letter to the Hippodrome, the pantomime, and theatre as a whole, which many of us sorely missed over the last two years.
And the Hippodrome lives up the task of giving us everything we missed, with the most extravagant, dazzling spectacle you can imagine.
Towering animal puppets really bring the magic of circus to life, with an enormous animatronic gorilla being a particularly spectacular sight.
Scenes with the panto’s characters are also interspersed with real-life circus acts to give us all the thrills of the real big top. Audiences are treated to a magician, a tightrope walker, aerial stunts, and even a motorcycle globe of death.
But of course, the actors are the stars of the show, led by everyone’s favourite neighbour Jason Donovan and veteran Hippodrome panto performer Matt Slack. A good pantomime will fully utilise its leading stars, and there’s no opportunity missed to lovingly rip apart Donovan’s career.
Every possible pun about his singing and acting career is included in the show, making many of the panto’s best jokes.
And watch out for a panto debut from ‘Kylie’ which must surely go down into the Hippodrome’s hall of fame.
Donovan and Slack bounce perfectly off each other, creating enough chemistry to make you believe that they’re a life-long double act.
Some of the best moments are where the two tease each other into breaking character, which always seems to be the funniest part of a panto.
It’s not a panto after all if a famous performer doesn’t ask if they’re being paid enough for this.
Doreen Tipton is also a welcome addition to the cast for local audiences who are already familiar with her viral sketches about being lazy and living in the Black Country.
Both of which feature in Goldilocks, with many of Doreen’s ‘lazy cow syndrome’ gags reminiscent of the type of humour you would find in a Little Britain sketch.
However, the undeniable star of the show is Matt Slack.
He’s the show’s driving force, bringing not only the life and laughs to the show, but elevating it to a whole other level.
His charisma and talent truly demonstrates why the Hippodrome has a reputation for having the best pantomime in the country.