Empire Theatre, Consett

Good things come in small packages and North East human dynamo, Leah Bell, as Dame Nelly Belly, proves the point making this pantomime her own. She literally drives the show forward taking control of all the comedy, which proves to be worth the initial wait. Her singing is impeccable, as usual, and her on stage presence means the audience are putty in her hands from the off.

David Ducasse, as Dick, seems too comfortable in his role, allowing Jason Jones as King Rat, with an amazing make up, to captivate the audience, without being too evil for the youngsters. Bionik Funk play Tommy the Cat and Hip Hop, extremely well but it is obvious John Herald, in the none speaking role Hip Hop, is capable of so much more.

While Kaylee Carson fits the bill as Alice Fitzwarren, the changes in the story take the focus from the Alice and Dick relationship the antics of Nelly Belly. Which given Leah Bell’s strengths is the right move, but leave Alice almost confined to the chorus in certain scenes.

Apart from the closing of Act One, which is slow and looks awkward, the show is well dressed and whenever Leah Bell is on stage is a fun down to earth show that knows its place and does not take itself at all seriously. All involved must be congratulated for bringing a professional live pantomime to Consett, and with tickets already on sale for next year, a trip to the local professional pantomime this will hopefully become an annual tradition in Consett.