Ian Waller and his family enjoy one of the best pantomimes that they have ever seen
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Theatre Royal Bath is without doubt one of the best pantomimes that I have ever seen! From the very first appearance of Jon Monie as Muddles, through the superb set pieces and non-stop jokes along the way, the whole production is quite simply family theatre at its peak.
The Theatre Royal pantomime is always a real highlight of the festive season for my family and me, and while, just occasionally, some of the star turns haven’t quite shone as brightly as they might have, the overall fun and tradition of the productions have carried them through. The real success with this year’s panto is that, despite a really enjoyable turn by TV star Harriet Thorpe as the Wicked Queen, a majority of the action was carried by local favourites Jon Monie as Muddles and Nick Wilton as Dame Dolly, alongside the lesser known talents of Devon-Elise Johnson as Snow White and Michael Quinn as Prince Frederick. The result was that they all absolutely shone, supported by a wonderful script that delivered hilarious jokes at an often breakneck speed and a real appreciation by the whole crew about how to make a panto work.
Front and centre throughout, and undoubtedly the star of the show, was Jon Monie. With over 900 performances in Theatre Royal pantos under his belt, he certainly knows his way around the famous stage. The difference this time though was a script and production that allowed him to real showcase his talents and experience to the full. Right from his first appearance on stage, tripping over his muddled words in a manner that the Rev Spooner himself would have appreciated, he was simply hilarious. No, he can’s sing and he certainly can’t dance, but that didn’t matter. I have never seen my wife and children laugh so much at a panto and largely this was down to Mr Monie.
Much of Monie’s stage time was shared by his long-term panto-partner, Nick Wilton as Dame Dolly, respendent in an ever-changing display of amazing outfits and as fine a dame as you could find. Harriet Thorpe, meanwhile, made a wonderfully menacing Wicked Queen, inviting the boos and hisses of a packed audience, and suitably horrific to everyone around her.
Devon-Elise Johnson as Snow White and Michael Quinn at Prince Frederick might not be the best known names, but their performances here showed they are blessed with wonderful stage craft and timing, as well as beautifully trained singing voices. Quinn’s performance as the handsome prince was particularly impressive, one moment the romantic lead, the next the perfect foil to the silly antics of Dame Dolly and Muddles.
And yes, of course all of the traditions were – oh yes they were – with ghosts, slapstick, sweets thrown into the audience and many naughty jokes that were very much aimed at the grown-ups in the audience, without upsetting the little ones.
If there was a highlight to pick out, it was the absolutely hilarious skit based around a very modified 12 days of Christmas, was Muddles, Dame Dolly and and Smiler from the seven dwarfs, rushing on and off stage to pick up the likes of pants, socks, toilet rolls and a bra built for three, as each tried to get in the other’s way. OK, it might not sound that amazing, but it had the crowd in hysterics, none more so than my wife and 11 year old daughter!
I really can’t recommend Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Theatre Royal enough. There aren’t any incredible special effects, X Factor runners-up or ageing soap stars involved, but there is a huge amount of talent, silliness and fun, and my family and I loved it.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs runs at the Theatre Royal Bath until 7 January 2018. www.theatreroyal.org.uk