Over-the-top, packed with jokes and slightly surreal, Snow White is another storming success for the Alban Arena and Evolution Productions.
We knew we were in for an interesting night when we were given 3D glasses on the way in. Without giving too much away, the spooky bench scene is one of the best things I have seen on stage in years, and made me and the kids jump out of our seats. You have been warned…
There is a great cast this year. Rita Simons, who is known for playing Roxy Mitchell in Eastenders, was a rather fabulous wicked stepmother. Rita totally threw herself into the part and sang her rock-chick numbers really well; she was a professional singer before Eastenders. A few of the youngsters in the audience found her properly scary, but I thought she’d be great fun to go out for a drink with a group of St Albans mums. Sweet Child of Mine was a clever choice of song. The cast of Eastenders were in the audience to support Rita the night we went, and joined in with huge enthusiasm, especially when an old face appeared in the mirror.
You will recognise Brian Wheeler and George Appleby playing two of the dwarves from many Harry Potter films, and they bring years of panto experience to the stage to make their scenes look effortless. We thought the Whistle While You Work/Shake it Off Taylor Swift mash-up number (I told you it was surreal) with Snow White (played by Lauren Cocoracchio) was really entertaining and original. Jonny Goldbold was a very charming Prince, and can really sing, having just finished the UK tour of Guys and Dolls.
TV’s Dave Bibby as Muddles was a big hit with the kids, and had many of the best lines, with lots for teenagers too. A stand-up comedian who has appeared at Underbelly and on Radio 4, Dave brings great comedy timing to the role.
Ian Kirkby is back this year as a misunderstood henchman, and steals the show with his musical Queen number. It is the funniest thing I have seen in an Arena panto, and I defy even the grumpiest granddad not to laugh too. And of course, where would the St Albans panto be without everyone’s favourite, Bob Golding, in a dress? With nods to his inspiration Eric Morecambe, plenty of clever, local jokes (poor old Luton) and buckets of silliness, Bob as Nurse Nellie brings panto magic to St Albans.
So was it the best St Albans panto ever? Oh yes it was!