Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – Review – Bradford Alhambra

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Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – Review

Bradford Alhambra, December 2014

by Sandra Callard

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is this year’s pantomime at the Bradford Alhambra and stars the inimitable Billy Pearce and X Factor winner, Joe McElderry. I must admit to a slight hesitance towards attending, having been away from the genre for nigh on thirty years – little did I know that I was in for something of a theatrical surprise. First of all, it was a sell out. In a theatre as lovely as the Alhambra, filled with excited kids and, as it happens, equally excited adults, the atmosphere was intoxicating. And to my great delight and surprise, so was the show.

snow white bradford castBilly Pearce, playing the loveable Muddles, is a revelation – to me at least – although not, I am sure, to his many legions of fans. He makes you laugh, which is always a good start. But he can tap dance to the extent of doing a very good take on the famous Fred Astaire dance up the walls and across the ceiling routine. This has the children open-mouth with amazement. His interaction with the audience is second to none. His personality dominates every scene, not with force or power, but with his genuine and very apparent love of his trade and appreciation of his audience.

“Not just a pretty face”

Another surprise is Joe McElderry, giving a very strong performance in the acting field. His timing in the brilliantly choreographed number, ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, is superb.  He strutts about the stage as the Spirit of the Mirror, and is a perfect foil for Pearce. Not being afraid to lose control and laugh at the jokes himself. He is great, and not just a pretty face and a nice voice.

snow white bradford witchAll the usual tried-and-tested characters are brought to life by a talented cast. The principal girl and boy are played engagingly soppily by Charlotte Haines and David O’Mahony. The inimitable Dame, played by Adam Stafford, gives us some wonderful double entendres and near-the-knuckle jokes to delight the adults and sail over the children’s heads.

“A taste of modern humour”

The set designer, Ian Westbrook, the  lighting designer, Matt Clutterham and wardrobe supervisor, Hazel Jupp deserve credit for the outstandingly colourful and beautiful appearance of each scene. It is exactly what pantomime should be – over the top. It hits the senses full-on like a favourite book come to life.

snow white bradford apple

Visual Special Effects by The Twins FX excel. A highlight of the show is a flying car driven by Pearce, which rivals in every way the famous stage car Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which has now gone into theatre history. The car leaves the stage and flies out over the audience and pirouettes around to the amazement of the children. Their faces tell the tale of wonder, which is at the heart of pantomime.

The show brings out all the best of English traditional pantomime humour, which is unique to this country. Yet still gives a nod to the adults in the audience. It brings back memories and gives a taste of modern humour. The Alhambra has a well-deserved reputation for quality when it comes to pantomime. This show is two and a half hours of sheer fun, laughter and joy for children and adults alike. Nobody leaves without a smile on their face.

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