BWW Reviews: BILLY THE KID A PANTO WESTERN, Rosemary Branch Theatre, December 1 2014

There's the good singing, the bad jokes and the ugly villainy we have come to expect from the Charles Court Opera Company (now delivering its eighth panto, Billy The Kid, at the Rosemary Branch until 10 January). Though the stairs up to the tiny theatre are still a bit of a challenge, John Savournin's team have looked at the costume options and, for a few dollars more than last year, delivered a Dame in finery fit for a Queen. So roll up, roll up and see one of London Theatre's annual highlights - and you'll not need to hand over a fistful of dollars for a ticket!

Many CCO favourites are back for another betrayal of their operatic training (Madness's Our House - albeit with new lyrics - has never been sung with such precision and as for Cher's Bang Bang - well!) Matthew Kellet is the eponymous hero, a goat devoid of devilment, but devoted to Dan (Joanna Marie Skillett) whose long blonde hair and soprano voice make for a suitably unlikely cowboy. Romance soon blossoms between Bucakaroo Dan and, wait for it, Pocabeaver (a posh tottyish Nichola Jolley) as it does between Amy J Payne's desperate Sheriff and John Savournin's outrageous Nelly Nockers. But will the evil Mumford (Bruce Graham channelling Frankie Howerd) thwart their plans? I think we all know the answer to that one.

For all the sensational singing parodying pop sogs old and new (David Eaton doing his usual wonderful job on keyboards, this time with Dave Jennings on percussion) and the esoteric subject matter, this is a traditional panto - bawdy humour (but plenty for the kids, big and small); audience participation and showstoppping set-pieces (look out for the puppets). It also looks fantastic (thanks to William Fricker and Mia Walden), this company's signature professionalism running through every aspect of the madcap show.

You'll laugh, you'll cry and you'll fling some pie - and if you can get a ticket, do!

Photo Bill Knight

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