Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson wiggles and jiggles her way across the stage as the Genie of the Lamp in the Liverpool Empire’s lavish Christmas pantomime.

Although her part is minimal her presence on stage, clad in a sparkly red swimsuit, showing off her impossibly perfect body, has maximum impact. Each time the lamp is rubbed she appears from above on a circular swing looking impishly naughty. She boop-boops her way through the songs, a-la Marilyn Monroe, flicking her bed-head long blonde tresses, teetering with toned legs on sky-high stilettos. The daddies in the audience were obviously delighted. The pantomime was, for once, a real treat for them too!

But although Pammy is an absolute catch for presenters First Family Entertainment, her celebrity kudos should not overshadow the magnificent cast that has all ages in stitches. Les Dennis, a panto stalwart, plays Wishee Washee the ‘younger’ brother of the handsome Aladdin (Marc Mulcahey). There are hilarious interludes with Dennis and the cast rushing about the stage trying to keep up with panto-action songs that include toilet rolls , rubber chickens and, of course, a soaking for the audience.

Sean Kearns, is a brilliant dame. His costumes as Widow Twankey are superbly outlandish and in each scene get more delightfully preposterous. He is incredibly tall and looms over all the others, his towering wigs making his height even greater! And when he fluffs his lines he, with the help of Dennis, cleverly turns this moment around, using the ‘mistake’ to create even greater mirth!

Every panto has to have a villain and Mark Moraghan does his role, Abanazar, proud. Dressed in black and gold Arabian garb he roars through his lines revelling in the boos from the audience. And acting his heart out is the effervescent Major Pong of Mirthyside Police (Conleth Kane) whose energy is totally engaging. Djalenga Scott delivers a fine performance, her lithe body put to the utmost effect as the Slave of the Ring.

The two lovers, Dani Rayner as Princess Jasmine and Marc Mulcahey as Aladdin, acquit themselves well, their singing voices melding finely. The show has abundance of colour and joy with much singing and dancing, not to mention many localised jokes that skip over the tinies’ heads but have the audience in giggles.

The Empire’s sets are fabulously sparkly and inventive and one is drawn into the scenes as the drama unfolds. The rumbustious finale – Don’t Stop Believing – says it all. Panto is a slice of wonderland, a detachment from reality and just what we need in these hard times.

-Jeanette Smith