All too often the seasonal Christmas show is dominated by farcical slapstick, innuendo and gaudy costumes. Directors feel they can get away with turning the handle and regurgitating that which worked last year and the years before that.
Happily, this attitude does not prevail amongst the ‘Made in Colchester’ team who produced this year’s panto at the Mercury Theatre. Oh, but yes, there is farcical slapstick and innuendo but it does not dominate. It is just a small part of a beautifully blended piece of musical theatre designed to appeal to all ages.
From the start it is clear that Fairy Blossom (Gbemisola Ikumelo) is not to be messed with, for it is she who will keep the evil Enchantress (Carli Norris) in line, as one would expect. Carli really does relish her evil role, sticking her tongue out at the audience every time she exited stage right.
For ludicrous comedy the pairing of Dale Superville as Muddles and Antony Stuart-Hicks as Nurse Nellie is brilliant, as they each try to adlib the other off script. Their mirror scene with The Enchantress had tears of laughter rolling down my cheeks.
Then there are the beautiful voices of Snow White (Megan Bancroft) and Rupert (Alex Green) and the dwarfs…
…ah yes, the dwarfs. If you were expecting Happy, Sleepy, Grumpy, Doc et al, they are not there. Nor should they be, for this is not a Disney creation. This is Made in Colchester. A gaggle of Euro puppets – who just can’t, who just can’t, who just can’t control their feet – including a Frenchman and an incomprehensible Scot, make up Snow White’s seven sidekicks. Brilliantly brought to life by their puppeteers.
There are silly songs, bits where you clap along and pathos a plenty – loud scary bits that make you jump and lots of shouting and screaming as every youngster yelled and screamed in most of the right places.
This is a fine piece of musical theatre disguised as a pantomime and surely one of the best festive family shows in the region. Give yourself and the family a treat and spend a couple of hours being royally entertained at The Mercury. To misquote The Temptress” HASHTAGwellworthseeing.”
…oh, and did I mention there were zombies? No? There were!