Madcap pantos are ten-a-penny at this time of year, but they don't come much madder than the sixth annual Charles Court Opera pantomime at the Rosemary Branch Theatre (until 9 January). Director/writer/Mother Superior John Savournin leads the show again, mixing an eclectic mix of sensational operatic voices with sensationally bad jokes... and baking. There's nothing quite like it - and that's not entirely a bad thing!
On a wonderfully witty set (designed by James Perkins), d'Artagnan (Matthew Kellett) bumps into novice nun Justice (Holly Julier) and has his heart stolen. Before long, he might have his life stolen too as Cardinal Richelieu (Kevin Jones) and sidekick Milord de Winter (Simon Masterton-Smith) realise that d'Artagnan is the true heir to the throne. But our hero has the help of his trusty musketeers (Amy J Payne, Lexi Hutton and Nichola Jolley) and the day is saved!
But that's just the half of it! David Eaton's brilliant (and funny) musical accompaniment is the springboard for this cast of opera singers to belt out a variety of songs from pop classics to more obscure numbers (via, inevitably, Climb Every Mountain), sung thrillingly close up - so close you almost soar on the harmonies. Though a boutique pantomime, the costumes (by Mia Walden) are both funny (Mr Savournin has never looked more, er... striking) and sexy (The Musketeers carry off drag very, er...unconvincingly). The silliness on stage never cedes to the seriousness of their art - and that's what makes this company's work stand out.
If you're wary of panto having been put off years ago by watching a soap star and an early-eliminated reality TV star being shoehorned into a script that sounds like it was written on the back of a cigarette packet, make your way to the little theatre above the pub in North London. Because if there's such a thing as a classy panto, The Three Musketeers is it.