ONCE again Pendle Productions and Thwaites Empire Theatre, Blackburn, have excelled with their ever-popular pantomime.

This year’s offering – Dick Whittington and his Cat – has a slow start.

However, this picks up with the group song and dance routines, involving many talented local children.

There’s a good mix of traditional scenery, with a more modern musical score, including Abba’s Money, Money, Money; Michael Jackson’s Bad; and Leona Lewis’ Better in Time. Lawrence Stubbings’ character Idle Jack has a snappy signature tune – Scouting For Girls’ hit Heartbeat – and has the audience singing and dancing in their seats.

King Rat, played by Pop Idol finalist Anthony Batey, is suitably bad, and encourages the audience to hiss and boo him.

Fairy Bow Bells (Radio Lancashire’s Sally Naden) couldn’t be missed in her fluorescent fairy outfit, and we would have liked to have seen more of her, as she flitted in and out of the scenes. Providing the comic innuendo, aimed at mums and dads, is Sarah the Cook (Ian Fox).

We loved him in last year’s Cinderella, and his flamboyant costume changes are something else! Sarah’s amorous advances towards Alderman Fitzwarren (David McClelland) are most amusing.

Firm panto favourites are Justine Bailey, who plays Dick Whittington, and Josephine McHugh as the Alderman’s daughter, Dick’s love interest, Alice Fitzwarren.

Peppermint the Cat is a welcome addition with his fantastic lilac and mint-coloured costume, designed by Blackburn competition winner Gabrielle Faulkner.

Tickets on 01254 685500.