Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Theatre Royal Bath
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Theatre Royal Bath
The highlight of the show for two six-year-old tiara-wearing princesses alongside me was catching a packet of sweets thrown into the audience from the stage, which just goes to show that the well-worn routines are the best.
And there are plenty of gags – old and new – to make all ages chuckle in this year's delightful pantomime.
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Director Chris Harris has created a truly enchanting Snow White featuring real dwarfs and some cute furry woodland creatures (thanks to the tots from the Dorothy Coleborn School of Dance).
Add to this a wicked Queen, a fair princess, a handsome prince and a happy ending and you have all the ingredients with which to serve up a sizzling festive show.
Award-winning actor Nichola McAuliffe plays a dramatic and suitably evil Queen who is very scary until timid youngsters get the hang of booing when she appears. From then on they just love her every appearance on stage.
One of her best moments is with a scorcher of a song and dance routine called I Want To Be Evil that gives the older Dorothy Coleborn dancers a chance to show off their devilishly fine talents.
The sweet-voiced Laura Clements is delightful as Snow White and belts out some excellent songs, while Ben Harlow – ding dong! – is the very essence of a debonair handsome prince in the languid style of actor Leslie Phillips.
As ever Chris Harris and fellow panto star Jon Monie (respectively playing Nurse and Muddles) seamlessly provide the topical jokes and the comic links that move the plot along at a cracking pace.
There's an entertaining bed-hopping ghost scene that involves much farty-sounding blowing out of lamps, and a ghoulies and ghosties song routine that's scary and funny in equal measure.
We've seen it all before in one form or another but that's part of pantomime's appeal for children, along with being able to shout out – and loudly, at that.
They also perform a great magical hat routine – the wearer becomes deaf – whose simplicity masks the brilliant comic timing and skill of this duo.
But alongside their sure-fire touch with the gags and the songs is the fact that Snow White is a tale beloved by children, and this production is a gem that brings that story vibrantly to life.
The dwarfs – some of whom have appeared in several Harry Potter films – are hugely entertaining and everyone lustily sings Whistle While You Work and Heigh-Ho along with them.
The set is beautiful, particularly the forest glades where Snow White comes across the dwarfs' house with its seven little beds, and there's a highly effective – and amusing – talking mirror (voiced by Neil Kitchin Wilson).
Wonderful lighting effects and a glitter ball that casts stars and fairy lights in dazzling swirls around the auditorium add to the magic of this production.
The six-year-olds were entranced, and no wonder. Chris Harris's pantomimes are the stuff of festive family entertainment and this one is a cracker.
Sponsored by The Bath Chronicle, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs runs until January 13 2013. Call the box office on 01225 448844 for times and tickets or visit www.theatreroyal.org.uk