Snow White at Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds

This is a great example of how to make a fun pantomime without causing any level of offence! This is well-written with a story line that has some links to the original, however it is adapted to modern day parameters and honours the late Queen Elizabeth II.

We are greeted by Gladys from the Palace, (Philippa Carson) who is our narrator and is naturally warm, great with kids and very funny.

We first meet Snow White (Lara Lewis) as she rides into the main hall on a Norton. She loves tinkering with motorbikes, being outdoors and is looking forward to her 21st birthday party – a day when she should be made Queen of Buryland. However, her evil step-mother Queen Lucretia (Beth Tuckey) is not ready to relinquish the throne just yet.

Party day is here and the castle has been cleaned from top to bottom however Queen Lucretia says it needs to be done again before any party can begin, so Dusty Crevice (Craig Painting) our panto Dame is brought in to help. Dusty is hilarious with her bad jokes, colourful costumes and twisted sense of humour, she really brings a lot of fun to the panto.

Sir Nicholas of Norwich (Zachary Pang) is travelling to the party and meets a stranger on the way – of course we all know it’s Snow White but he doesn’t.

Queen Lucretia and her loyal creepy butler Grumble (Peter Baker) plot to kill Snow White. Unfortunately each plot doesn’t go to plan, mainly due to Grumble being a bit of a twit. Firstly a treasure hunt to lure Snow White into the woods works, but then Grumble doesn’t kill her but tells her to stay in the forest forever. Then they try and poison her with an apple, but Grumble uses the wrong bottle and instead puts Snow White to sleep, the only cure is for her to be woken with a true loves kiss – so they plan to hide the body forever, which produces a funny scene.

While Snow White is in the woods looking for shelter, she comes across Gladys and her troop of seven scouts – named Happy, Noisy, Sneaky, Speedy….you get the drift. They all become friends and they help rescue Snow White and get her on the throne – and they all live happily ever after.

Interspersed with the story and many plot twists is the fun music – the score contains several pop songs with alternative words and they are all enjoyable being clap and dance worthy – including ‘Can’t Stop This Feeling’ being changed to ‘Can’t Stop The Cleaning’ not sure how that will catch on with the kids, but it was perfect for this panto.

In addition to the brilliant cast is Dame Judy Dench, who plays the voice of the Magic Mirror. Okay, so we know she is not behind the curtains but the timing and recording were almost perfect enough to think that she might as well have been back stage.

This was an excellent value for money panto and it really is for the whole family, all ages were laughing, smiling, clapping and completely engaged. The storyline was full and enjoyable. The scouts were local children and were part of the story, rather than a token gesture, and I think this really added a level of engagement from the younger members of the audience. It wasn’t a short show either, there were a couple of filler scenes but the kids were laughing, which is all that matters.

There was a high level of audience participation as the cast were so good at engagement, of course some audience members were participating more than they wanted, but that’s expected of a panto – expect the unexpected!

Although this is the first panto of the season, it is highly recommended as the energy levels, laughter and joy it brought to the audience was wonderful.