Leighton Buzzard Drama Group’s Puss in Boots is purrfect panto!

Puss In Boots. Credit: LBDG
Puss In Boots. Credit: LBDG

There’s a bedknob on the bedstead...there’s a head bed on the...oh, you know what I mean! Well actually, you don’t, because it’s panto season and it’s time for tomfoolery, tongue twisters and toe-tapping dance routines.

This year, The Leighton Buzzard Drama Group is bringing you its performance of Puss in Boots, guaranteed to get you clapping your hands and feline good.

Jasper and Jethro. Credit: LBDG

Jasper and Jethro. Credit: LBDG

Our heroine, Princess Esmerelda (Chloe King) has run away from her stifling parents Queen Wendy (Grant Fellows) and King Wally (Randell Moll) who would like their young daughter to marry for money and reign over the kingdom, including the small village of Much-Rabbiting-on-the-Ouze.

However, when handsome hero Jack (Jo Taylor) shows up, the audience know that true love never did run sm-ouze, as cash-strapped Jack only has faithful cat Puss (Maggie Moulds) to his name, bequeathed to him by his late adoptive father.

But, hey, it’s panto, so the pair can sing their troubles away, and Jo and Chloe treat the audience to some beautiful harmonies during their punchy pop duets.

Maggie, meanwhile, impressed us last year with her vocals in Aladdin and she’s back on top form again this year playing sassy star Puss with “serious cat-attude”.

It’s hats off to the costume department for Puss’s sparkly outfit, and to Maggie for her vocal performance, as clever Puss is able to charm her way to the top.

Also in love - but with all the women in the village - are Jack’s cheeky brothers, Jasper (Andy Ferguson) and Jethro (Mark Croft) who play the bumbling pair with purrfect panache.

The siblings are hoping to win the heart of Esmerelda, but end up on the wrong side of the tracks (and rabbits!), with some brilliant comedy faces from Croft and witty ad-libs from Ferguson.

Thankfully, keeping a heavily eye-shadowed watch over proceedings is Queen Wendy and her stuttering husband, King Wally.

Seasoned star Randell is brilliant as the tongue-tied king, and were you wondering what Grant Fellows, former vicar of All Saints Church is getting up to now he is retired?

Well, at one point Queen Wendy treats to the audience to a cheeky striptease flapper-girl style, throwing caution - and her feather boa - to the wind.

It’s a super panto debut from Grant who steals the show, and the LBO is hoping to see him tread the boards again in the future!

However, we must move on from the smiles to boos and hisses. Yes, every panto must have it’s villain, and threatening to marry poor Esmerelda is powerful orange-faced ogre, Grump (John Stone). With his bad tan, blonde wig, and big temper, he might remind you of another controversial figure in power across the pond...

Helping Grump to spread fake news and misery is naughty fairy, Pernicia (Caroline Page), who really shines in comedy roles, while bringing a sense of calm to the scene is ethereal fairy, Priscilla (Melissa Regan) who is Pernicia’s glamorous, glittery sister - but can she come to the rescue when Puss is kidnapped from her bed?

The show saw a directing debut from Liz Rhodes, who should be proud of her catacular panto, while it was choreographed by her daughter Deryn, who created some fast and fun routines.

Credit must also be given to elegant chorus members Nicky Ripley and Jess Stevens, as well as Babs (Heather Brodie) and Betty (Donna Jackson) whose lust for Jethro and Jasper made the audience chuckle.

Finally, we’ve covered the vicar as panto Dame, but we also have a singing doctor, and a special mention must go to Bobbie (Dr Thao Nguyen) and Millie the maid (Samantha Stevens) whose vocal performances stood out.

Puss’s boots were made for walking, and this January you should put one foot in front of the other and head down to the Leighton Buzzard Library Theatre for panto magic!

Performances are:

Thu 10, 17 and 24 Jan 7.15pm; Fri 11, 18 and 25 Jan 7.15pm; Sat 12, 19 and 26 Jan 11am, 2.30pm and 6pm

Adults £13.00 Concs £11.50 (Inc. fees)

Note: Colin Aldous will play Queen Wendy during the January 19 performances.

Box office: 0300 300 8125.