IT’s nearly spring, the pancake batter is made for Shrove Tuesday and Abergavenny Pantomime Company is back at the Borough Theatre so all is well with the world...or at least that’s what you’d think.

After a covid and theatre refurbishment enforced break of almost three years it was always inevitable that the company’s opening night was not going to go smoothly and for once - and he must breath a sigh of relief at this - it wasn’t because Snowy Clark forgot this lines!

No sooner had we found our way into our pristine new theatre seats, clapped along to the overture and cheered at the sight of the enthusiastic chorus than the curtains swished closed and the house lights came up catching more than one of us with our hands in a freshly opened bag of choccies.

At first it was hard to tell whether the sudden halt to proceedings was part of the panto or something more serious as the person quietly telling us to stay in our seats was treated to her own ‘he’s behind you moment’ by a colleague excitedly telling us to abandon ship.

As we plodded our way downstairs it was at least a good chance for a chat with former panto company members and a catch up on what I’d missed in the past few years.

To add to the off stage drama when we were finally allowed back into the auditorium it became apparent that not everyone had made it back with some of our number trapped in the theatre’s temperamental lift - which at least provided fine fodder for some off-script quips from the company.

Finally after a lengthy delay and a quick stop at the bar for some of the audience, we were back off at full pace with the unexpected break barely causing a ripple in the company’s confidence.

It would be easy to think that such a lengthy gap, added to the fact that traditional dame Ken Jones so much a driving force of the company had opted for another year’s break, would have caused a shift in the balance of the cast, but thankfully this was not to be the case.

In probably one of their best productions in recent years the cast gelled perfectly, with the core group of Snowy Clark and Joe Pugh as the Ugly Sisters, Molly Brickley Clark and Kayleigh Barton as Cinders and Prince Charming and Richard Poynter as an exuberant Buttons, working well together.

They were complemented perfectly by strong support from Peter Holder and Marilyn Balkwill as Baron and Baroness Hardup,  Hermione Williams as Dandini, Jon Newsam and Andrea Marfell as the King and Queen and Geraint Webb as the Herald.

Cait Davies was a regal Fairly Godmother proving she had no problems being ‘Confident’ in the excellent transformation scene.

Music as always played an important part in the show - with terrific numbers from the the lead character who all showed their musical chops which comes as no surprise when you consider the lifetime of experience on the Borough stage and further afield they share.

Looking at the line-up of homegrown talent on show, all of whom have all made their way back home to the Borough it’s easy to see why this is such a vital community asset for the town.

Of course it’s easy to laud the principals but equal kudos must go to the strong chorus, who rarely put a foot wrong and delighted with their every appearance.

From the youngest to the oldest they gave their all and ensured that Abergavenny Pantomime Company’s return to the Borough Theatre will be one that is long remembered.

As we waited outside in the drizzle I chatted to two ladies, who were Borough Theatre regulars and explained that they had been attending shows at its various incarnations for more than four decades.

Inside as the show unfolded our entire row was entertained by a babe in arms in the seats in front, who giggled, bounced and danced all the way through.

“I thought she’d be too young to come with us, but she’s loved it. And her sister was on stage for her first every show ” said her Mum as we left at the end of the evening.

Just goes to prove you’re never too young, too old or too cynical to enjoy a good old fashioned panto!