When I first heard Lee was doing panto, I expected to love seeing him play 'Jack the Lad' and probably tolerate the rest after the first viewing. How wrong could I be?
More times than I care to admit, I have shouted the obligatory "oh no you won't", "behind you" and rather more surprisingly "knickers", boo'd and hissed, shrieked and peeped through my fingers (that 3D giant ear-wig thing terrified me every time!), and most of all laughed - laughed till my ribs hurt, till the tears rolled down my aching cheeks, at this hilarious, clever, anarchic, slightly surreal but always highly entertaining artform we call panto!
The reviews were outstanding, the public response on Twitter and elsewhere equally enthusiastic - with a star-studded cast, great writing and very high production values, everything came together to make QDOS Pantomimes' Jack and the Beanstalk at The Mayflower the class act of the 2012/13 panto season.
I enjoyed each of my several trips to Southampton, but the final visit for the last four shows of the run was special both for the company I shared it with - fans, many now close friends, from near and very far - and for the moments both on and off stage that will live long in my memory.
I had re-jigged my plans and headed south on Thursday night ahead of the forecast heavy snow which duly arrived on Friday, so it was a relief to hear on Twitter at noon that the final shows would definitely go ahead. And so it was that we went from the ridiculous of a snow-bound matinee performed to just 120 intrepid (and hard-working!) audience members, to the sublime of a noisily exuberant house packed with families and fans for the final show, bringing the run to an end on a real high, with a richly deserved standing ovation for this wonderful and supremely talented cast.
Credit to The Mayflower for these memories of a brilliant show:
And a few of mine from the Stage Door, taken 'Joseph scrum style', camera held aloft like a periscope, aiming over the heads of the crowd. Whatever would we do without zoom and cropping?!