THERE is something about traditional pantomime which has whole families turn out of their cosy homes on a winter's evening and, in its 87-year history, the Abergavenny Pantomime Company has nearly always played to packed houses.

The first night was no exception. With veteran performer, Ken Jones, as the landlady of the Admiral Benbow Inn, Dame Sally Forth, leading a talented cast, how could they fail to deliver?

His son, Jim, was well played by award-winning actor Andrew Fowler who gamely battled on, despite nearly losing his voice. Strong performances came from Andrea Marfell as the ringmaster and her sidekick, Ringlet, was brilliantly played by Gracie Gething. Chelsea Viveash made a welcome return to panto as principal girl Millie and stalwart Peter Holder played her father Squire Trelawney. Panto needs a villain for the audience to boo and Snowy Clark delivered as Long John Silver, aided and abetted by his two henchmen: Plank and Mast, played by Jane Gilbert and Olivia Latheron. Their duet At Sea One Day was one of the highlights.

As usual it was the youngsters who stole the show, in this case Axel Bawler as Billy Bones and Miranda Newsam as Polly the Parrot - two lovely cameo roles. The evergreen Ken Watkins was welcomed back as the cannibal chief. With fabulous colourful costumes and a strong chorus it is well worth a night out. The show runs all week with matinees on Friday and Saturday.

By Lesley Flynn.