Making his Pantomime debut and playing Captain Hook is star of stage and screen Jason Manford. Naturally oozing charisma in the role, he entices the audience to boo him, as is traditional in Panto, before breaking character and telling the audience just how hard it is to be a Pantomime bad guy. We are then, it seems, in the middle of a Jason Manford stand up comedy gig with gags for the whole family. Jason puts the audience at ease with routine jokes for children and adults with some of them presumably passing over the younger viewers heads. Beware though, nobody is exempt from the Pantomime fun as one audience member found out!
Jason, known for his acting, comedy and writing abilities showed off his talented singing voice during ‘Cry Me A River’ which drew a huge audience response. Audiences may be unfamiliar that he holds a top 10 album and performed as a Hedgehog on The Masked Singer which gets a lovely nod in the show. As far as Pantomime debuts go they don’t get much better than this.
Starring opposite Jason is fellow Manchester comedian Ben Nickless, recently seen making it to the finals of Britains Got Talent. This is Ben’s fourth Pantomime in Manchester and he certainly keeps the audience coming back for more. Ben is a natural playing the role of Smee and navigates us through Neverland. His scenes with Jason are of particular highlight as their energy and chemistry come naturally to both. Whether they are teaching us a ‘newer’ version of the 12 Days of Christmas or taking us on a journey dressed as mermaids with singing coconut bras (you really have to see it to believe it) the pair certainly have a natural rapport with the audience. We are also treated to a performance not too dissimilar to the ones seen on Britain’s Got Talent where ‘This Is Me’ is performed by Ben in a range of characters ranging from Boris Johnson to Scooby Doo. Not only was this incredible to watch but also a heartfelt message and moment in a show of chaos and laughter. Ben deserves all the plaudits he has received this year and will go from strength to strength.