REVIEW: Alternative panto @ Sallis Benney

Brian Butler March 16, 2020

Only once a year can Brighton audiences see the cream of Brighton’s drag and cabaret acts on one stage – welcome to the Alternative Panto !

Allan Cardew has written and directed a rip-roaring piece of adult entertainment that rarely fails to please. The singing talent this year is outstanding and in solos and duets the stars of the show shine brightly. The story may be plain daft and the innuendoes sometimes painful , but that’s panto folks.

The show opens with an ending – the apparent final performance of a panto, but with the entrance of the wicked witch of the West , alias Kara Van Park, it’s clear that all is not well. Our panto stars are trapped in Pantoland , doomed to carry on performing, unless by midnight they can find a man – any man.

Their efforts, supported by the deliciously grumpy Fairy Rosebud, aka Davina Sparkle, take them to the crushing grounds of Duke’s Mound, a gingerbread cottage, and the Queen’s Arms.

There are plenty of twists and turns but the strength of this show is the vocal power. Jason Lee, Pat Clutcher, Dave Lynn, Miss Jason and Sally Vate are determined to find their man- cue the first song Gimme Gimme Gimmer A Man After Midfnight, sung with gusto by all five.

Just when you think it can’t get sillier, on spins  Mrs Moore as a manic, deep-throated Dorothy from Oz. It’s a well-studied performance in comic timing. But there is a man to be found – in the form of relatively new kid on the Brighton block Jamie Heward, who has a powerful show tunes voices and smiling charm to match.

And then there’s the gormless fairy Tinkerbell, aka Stephanie Von Clitz who is there to help but stumbles at every turn.

Dave Lynn is a mistress of ad lib and he’s on top form, paired with a raunchy rendition of Hot Stuff that gets the audience going.

Sally Vate surprises in a rap version of Sweets For My Sweet,

In the male performers no-one outshines Allan Jay, who leads us through a Village People medley . But the show-stealer is Sondheim’s comic song You Gotta Have A Gimmick, where Pat, Sally and Jason Lee all show off unexpected and alarming talents.

The show is raising money for the safety forum, so go support live entertainment.

The panto resumes it run on 19 March till 22nd at the Sallis Benney Theatre. More info on the Panto website here: