When it comes to the festive season, Liverpool isn’t short of theatrical offerings. For those whose Christmas isn’t complete without a visit to the panto, there’s lots to choose from. While the bigger venues tend to bring in the patrons, there are plenty of smaller theatres ready to offer just as much festive frivolity.

Tucked away on Seel Street is the Actor’s Studio, an intimate venue that has hosted some fantastic shows this year. English Rice Productions present their first Christmas offering, The Gingerbread Man.

It’s Christmas and Mrs Muffin (Paul Codman) is feeling lonely. After whipping up a storm in the kitchen, she discovers that her incompetent Fairy Godmother, Fairly Nuff (Catherine Rice), has bought her Gingerbread Man (Glenn Adamson) to life. Of course nothing goes quite to plan, and there’s a hungry fox (Barrie Ryan English) to watch out for.

We’re all familiar with the tale of The Gingerbread Man, but writer Karen Blick has injected plenty of pop culture references that keep the story fresh. The cast of four work well together, showing a real knack for improvisation, a handy skill when faced with an audience of excitable children. Codman is incredibly endearing as Mrs Muffin, quickly establishing a rapport with the room. While English’s portrayal of the dastardly Fox gets the crowd booing.

Adamson delivers an energetic portrayal of the Gingerbread Man, while Rice is perfectly zany in her role.  Part of the charm of this production is the cast’s willingness to interact with that audience. There’s lots of singing, dancing and clapping along. In short, it’s everything that you’d expect from a panto, without being overdone.

You could be forgiven for thinking that this is a show just for kids, and while it is aimed at a younger audience, there’s plenty of cheeky humour for adults to enjoy. At just £10 a ticket and in a venue that isn’t intimidating to youngsters, The Gingerbread Man is the perfect treat for a cold winters day.

- Vicki Goodwin