Snow White

Centre Stage Company

Haverhill Arts Centre Friday

January 25 Review by Karen Steel

It had been some years since I'd been to a Centre Stage pantomime but I had good memories of previous shows. However, as time passes sometimes memories become somewhat rose-tinted and I was a bit worried I had 'bigged up' previous productions in my mind. Happily this was not the case and I can report Snow White lived up to my expectations and more, with some brilliant acting, modern choreography and fast-paced action.

The cast of familiar and new faces was well supported by some excellent technology: the magic mirror made my jaw drop the first time it came to life and I can imagine was terrifying to smaller audience members.The cat was a triumph worthy of Jim Henson, brilliantly created and voiced by Laura Bacon, who also made an appearance as Nigella Lawson, the woman I love to shake my head in disbelief at.

Newcomer to Centre Stage, Denise Clayden commanded authority as the wicked Queen Eldred and Andy Letcher was eminently likeable as King Hector – somehow making you believe he probably did love his dastardly wife once upon a time.

There's always a danger of panto heroines being too saccharine, but Amy Letcher was a believable Snow White and the romance between her and Prince Rupert (Paige Naxton) was not overplayed, as can happen in some pantomimes.

I particularly enjoyed Snow White's rendition of the Allstars' Bump In The Night, accompanied by a cute ensemble of younger performers.

Clearly the talk of the show is likely to be Nick Keeble's larger-than-life dame, Mrs Murgatroyd, with seemingly Marge Simpson-inspired hair and a worrying line in feline humour and a prediliction for catastrophe.

Kevin Skilton's brummie Wot and Becca Neal's Lester had an easy rapport with the audience and despite it being one of the few nights not to be sold out quickly got them shouting out, which can be tricky.

Steven Roach was enchanting as Wizard Blackheart, providing humour for a slightly older audience, and the story was moved on well by Lorraine Mason as the Wishing Well Fairy and Steven Ridpath as Grant, ensuring there was never time to get bored.

In this time of political correctness the Funny Little Men were somewhat, erm, bigger than their impressive home suggested, but their comic self-delusion was delivered in a deadpan manner which must have taken some practice and restraint.

It was clear to see why, for a share of the audience, this was their second viewing.