The proclaimed stars of Aylesbury’s Waterside pantomimes haven’t always lived up to their top billing, I can think of a few who have been disappointing.
But that certainly isn’t the case with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs this year.
Su Pollard, as the Wicked Queen, judges the role perfectly and hits the spot with her evil interpretation of the stepmother who wants to have beautiful Snow White killed, and secure Prince Frederick of Fairford Leys for herself.
With live music, a cornucopia of amazing costumes and atmospheric sets, including the dwarfs’ cottage, which opens to reveal the interior, this is a visually and auditorily satisfying pantomime.
There’s plenty of references to current news in the script, even including what must have been a last minute addition with a quip about Dennis Wise’s height (one for fans of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here).
Dressed in a variety of glorious sparkling dresses – and at one stage, a memorable shorts and top ensemble as she tries to seduce the prince – Ms Pollard is a real trouper, and has a lovely singing voice too.
In her first confrontation with the audience, after belting out One Way Or Another, she warns them, “I’ve just seen my worst nightmare – children. I hate children, you are dirty, horrible little creatures,” before adding mischievously, “I may hate children, but I love their dads.”
There is the traditional double entendre one expects at a pantomime, but nothing too offensive, with most of it going over the heads of the children.
Snow White is of course one of the loveliest of pantomimes, and Jenna Innes, in the leading role and on stage for most of the show, gives a top class performance, with lovely renditions of the famous songs I’m Wishing and Some Day My Prince Will Come. The show opens to a beautiful set with Snow White dressed in the familiar blue and yellow costume, with jet black hair tied with a red ribbon, then Muddles (Waterside stalwart Andy Collins, back for his seventh year) arrives on My Little Pony and so begins the hilarity ….
The queen can’t get his name right and throughout the panto uses a variety of monikers to address him – Puddles, Pebbles, Piddles, Crumbles, Fuddles.
He forms a great comedy double act with La Voix, back for the second year running at Aylesbury, and making her grand entrance on stage to Fame, introducing herself to the audience as Nurse Dolly, official nursemaid to the palace. She appears throughout the pantomime in increasingly over the top, utterly glamorous, sparkling costumes and wigs, looking better than many women and with a great pair of legs.
We are introduced to the prince early on, in the shape of Jon Moses, who is a perfect fit for the hero – being tall, handsome and well equipped in the vocal department. And even though Jon is a true Geordie there is no trace of his northern accent as he adopts the received pronunciation one would expect from a royal prince.
Muddles of course, in the shape of Andy Collins, is a great favourite with the audience and no one expects him to kill Snow White when, as instructed by the Wicked Queen, he takes her into the forest to dispose of her. Instead he returns with a pig’s heart.
The first half closes with appealing little furry animals taking Snow White to the cottage home of the dwarfs who return from the mine singing Whistle While You Work and who promise to protect her.
The second half includes the now regulation Twelve Days Of Christmas, Andy Collins’ signature act, helped this year by Nursie and one of the dwarfs. In addition to his famous ‘bra made for three’ this is the scene where Andy sprays the audience with water and this year he brought out a fire hose, before admitting he wasn’t allowed to use it for health and safety reasons. But that didn’t stop him racing around the auditorium with a super soaker as the audience variously took shelter under their seats, coats and umbrellas.
After the Wicked Queen poisons a juicy red apple and gives it to Snow White, our heroine appears to die, but of course we all know the handsome prince just needs to kiss her to bring the tale to a happy ending.
A super panto, with a great cast and chorus and marvellous support from wardrobe, music, and set design.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is on at the Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury until Sunday December 31 with morning, afternoon and evening performances. Tickets cost from £11.75. Box office 0844 871 7607 or book online at ww.atgtickets.com/aylesbury