Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – Review – Bradford Alhambra
By Sandra Callard, December 2019
Once again the team at Bradford Alhambra has smashed it with another spectacular pantomime. This year the production is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, headed by the seemingly never-ageing Yorkshire comedian Billy Pearce. Billy is one of a rare breed of funny men, in the style of the late, great, Eric Morecambe, who commands the stage on entry and makes you laugh by just standing there.
This year Billy is ably partnered by Paul Chuckle, who was half of the much-loved comedy team, the Chuckle Brothers, along with his late brother Barry. Paul, playing Oddjob, is the perfect foil for Billy as he stumbles, forgets his lines and takes the wrong exit, by accident or on purpose it is hard to tell, but he pulls it off magnificently.
“Weave the magic”
The show begins as it means to go on, with noise, colour and brilliant theatrical special effects. The stage is huge and every inch of it is used to capacity as the action, comedy and music weave the magic of pantomime over the theatre and its audience. There is not a bad performance in the entire show, from the genius of Billy Pearce, to the delightful little dancing Sunbeams who have performed at every pantomime at the Alhambra Theatre since it was founded and opened in 1912 by local impresario Francis Laidler.
Faye Tozer of the pop group Steps, performs convincingly as the wicked Queen Lucretia, and is beautiful and funny and horrible, as she should be. Princess Snow White and the aptly named Prince William of Wakefield are a lovely and well-cast pair who both look good and have gratifyingly pleasant singing voices.
“Joyous to watch”
As for the costumes, credit has to be given in spades to the Wardrobe and Speciality Costumes team for the appearance of the fantastic Seven Dwarfs. Obviously grown men, they metamorphose as totally convincing dwarfs trotting about the stage, but also make an entrance on the backs of giant animals in the most appealing and authentic way, which had children near me asking their parents if they were actually real animals. It is joyous to watch, and great credit must go to the costume teams and the Dwarfs themselves for carrying it off so perfectly.
Perhaps you may feel that this is an over-indulgent paean of praise, because nothing is perfect, but this particular production is as good as it gets and as good as I have seen in many a year. It caters for all ages, which there are bound to be at any pantomime, and Billy Pearce’s comedy can target children like an arrow.
“We all end up winners”
He lets them have a smidgen of naughtiness, such as his dog doing the unmentionable and ‘spraying’ the audience, and the children go wild at the daring of it. But he also delivers succinctly yet positively the jokes that would go over the heads of the children but which mum and dad immediately appreciate. It’s a fine line which Pearce never crosses and we all end up winners, happy and grateful to see a professional at the top of his tree who always knows his audience.
This is as near perfect a pantomime as you will get. You will forget about politics and the endless rain and wallow in a couple of hours of proper serious fun and laughter as a true and welcome presage to the Christmas season.