Panto arrives at Scarborough Spa in proper style: jokes, slapstick, song and dance

Scarborough Spa panto. Robin Hood Babes in the Wood  main cast''pic Richard Ponter
Scarborough Spa panto. Robin Hood Babes in the Wood main cast''pic Richard Ponter

Waterpistols, shaving cream pies in the face, Paw Patrol, the floss dance, Brexit and Donald Trump gags – oh yes, they are all here in the Spa pantomime.

It has more ham than a Christmas hamper, more cheers than a round at the Rovers and more boos than a mention of Council Tax.

Traditional as turkey and naughtier than a class of misbehaving infants, Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood is the offering from Tony Peers Productions.

Sophisticated it is not – there’s water in your kisser, slapstick in your face and cream pies planted on bald heads – all done in the worst possible taste.

Add a sparkly front cloth, sprinkles of fairy dust and pillars of fiery fireworks and the job’s almost done.

Songs from the Greatest Showman, George Ezra’s Shotgun and Pinkfong’s Baby Shark Song – with actions – completes the must-have ingredients.

Keeping the tradition, is Phil Beck who writes and directs the Spa panto. He also plays Nurse Nellie.

It is to his credit that the jokes are seasonal, topical, child-friendly with just a smattering of the cheeky for the grown-ups.

He is a dyed-in-the-outlandish-wig traditionalist. His principal girl is a girl – and so is his principal boy and no-one blinks an eyelid when Maid Marion - a woman in a silk dress – marries Robin Hood – a woman in Lincoln green tights.

There is the ghost routine to delight in and the plate gag to enjoy as well as the classic schoolroom scene.

Yep, they were there last year and the year before that – but all the more comforting and none the less funny for it.

Without these staples of panto, it would be like serving turkey without the trimmings – everyone expects it but are still delighted and thrilled when dinner is served.

Topical this year are references to Brexit – cheeky literally (what panto won’t have a reference to the political question of the century?) – and Donald Trump makes an appearance in the form of a costume.

Beck learned the trade of Dame from experts and it shows.

He is fantastic, engaging with the audience, throwing curve ball gags to his willing cast, has perfect comic timing and keeps the show moving at a cracking pace.

His side-kick – also in last year’s panto – is Mike Carnell who plays Silly Billy. Together they are a comedy gold double act. Carnell also knows how to work an audience and keep it on side even when it is getting a soaking.

Scarborough born and bred Charlotte Buxton is charming as Maid Marion and Louise Willoughby is our hero Robin Hood – both have lovely voices and belt out the songs with confidence.

Naomi Fox sprinkles the charm and rhyming couplets as the Good Fairy.

There were genuine screams from the youngsters when Ian Moore entered as the evil Sheriff of Nottingham. Moore was all over the part with menace and grimaces – he came across as a baddie who would have cheerfully dined on whinging kids.

Completing the cast is Edward Leigh as the Sheriff’s reluctant henchman Snarly. He too can knock-out a tune and dish out the ham.

Dancers from TLC of Dance are the Merry Men.

Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood has fun, song, dance, cheekiness and charm by the bucketful. This is traditional panto at its best.

Times: December 11, 12, 14 at 10am; Saturday December 15 at 2pm & 6.30pm; Sunday December 16 at 2pm and 6.30pm

December 18, 19, 20, 21 at 10am;

December 22 and 23 at 2pm 6.30pm; December 24 at 2pm

Tuesday December 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30 at 2pm & 6.30pm

December 31; January 1 at 2pm

Tickets: 01723 821888 or www.scarboroughspa.co.uk