It’s been a while since I’ve seen a panto. If they are all like this, then I won’t be leaving my next visit to one so long.
Regal Entertainment’s interpretation of the classic Snow White ticks all the boxes of your typical panto, but not in a routine way. There is a real verve and polish to the performance from all who grace the stage (and screen) tonight.
In the lead role as the fairest of them all is ex-Coronation Street and Wild at Heart star, Lucy Jo Hudson. As a Corrie alumna, we get a few obligatory mentions of the famous street. She shines in the lead role and is believably regal throughout.
Sharing top billing is St Helens’ legend Johnny Vegas, who is present and correct but only in a virtual sense as the Magic Mirror. Vegas, who has often been described as a larger than life character, certainly is tonight as he appears via a screen that descends from the rafters at the behest of the evil queen.
She is played to perfection by another hometown star, Si Foster, who as Evil Queen Camilla is back again playing the dame in what is a tradition-within-a-tradition for the theatre’s Christmas panto. Within the opening minutes, she’s imploring the audience to “give me a boo”. Given what she said she would do to Peppa Pig, the audience were more than willing.
Jack Rigby plays Prince Philip (of Fingerpost, no less) and he cuts a dash through the proceedings as the young suitor who is tasked with saving the day and winning the fair maiden’s hand in marriage.
Every panto needs its fool and Lewis Devine in the role of Muddles adds the requisite amount of silliness to the proceedings. He has a good line in corny jokes, and fart gags to keep the kids amused. OK, me included. The innuendo-laden Andy Pandy sketch certainly pushes at the line.
Herman the Henchman played by Ric Hazlewood switches from evil to good with consummate ease during the night and acts as a good comedy foil along the way.
Last, but certainly not least, is the intrepid band of Grumpy, Prof, Cheeky, Blusher, Sniffly, Snoozy, and Loopy, who all live up to their character traits to help save the day. It may come as a surprise as to which one of the seven is the hero of the hour.
It’s an energetic panto that doesn’t draw breath. The pace of the show fits a great deal into its two acts. The routines and choreography are well executed. The pyrotechnics are impressive too. There should be a nod too for the dancing ensembles too whose vigour and energy doesn’t drop, despite their contrasting ages.
There is a good selection of songs to sing-along to throughout the night. Take That’s Rule the World is the big closing number at the end of the first act and the tune becomes something of a motif for the remainder of the show. We get tunes by Michael Jackson, Status Quo and Tom Jones along the way, too.
There’s even a 3D element in the second act that deviates slightly from the traditional Snow White story. It’s a detour that the audience are more than willing to take. Be warned, there are elements and other surprises that are not for the fainthearted. It will also have you leaving the theatre with the Ghostbusters theme tune ringing around your head, which is no bad thing.
This run has been extended until January 14 and, given my lack of panto action in the last few years, I may be back for more. Oh, yes, I will.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs runs from December 2, 2017 until January 14, 2018. For more information, or for more tickets, visit the website.