Priscilla, the wicked queen of the stage

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Manchester Opera House
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Manchester Opera House

Arriving at a packed Manchester Opera House in mid-December has become the official start of Christmas for my family, and this year’s star-studded performance of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs seemed like the perfect way to get us in the festive mood.

A pantomime at the Manchester Opera House is guaranteed to feature a few familiar famous faces or stars of the moment, with previous performances featuring the likes of Louie Spence, Jodie Prenger and even Britain’s Got Talent winner Pudsey the dog. This year, however, seemed even more star-studded and even a little surreal.

This alternative take on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, as you would expect, is filled with the usual laughs, innuendo and topical references from the year to keep the whole family entertained.

The cast features Philip Olivier (‘Tinhead’ from Brookside to us oldies) as the Prince; Natalie Andreou as Snow White, Dallas and Naked Gun star Priscilla Presley as the Wicked Queen, and finally Warwick Davis, who plays head Dwarf Prof and also directs.

After a few technical glitches with the audio and a nervous start from Priscilla, it wasn’t long before everyone settled into the show; with special mentions going to Tam Ryan, who yet again expertly glues the show together, and Natalie Andreou who blew us away with some fantastic vocals in the early numbers.

The staging and use of lighting seemed far more elaborate than in previous years, with many scenes using layers of performance through different curtains, creating a really magical and dreamlike feel in places.

Midway through, we meet the newly named Dwarfs marching boldly into the middle of the audience, and giving us all a laugh before finding their way to the stage.

Led by Warwick Davis as Prof were Danny Blackner as Loopy, Pete Bonner as Cheeky, Peter Burroughs as Grumbly, Hayley Burroughs as Blusher, Annabelle Davis as Snoozy and Dean Whatton as Sniffles.

This is where the performance really picked up some steam, and any early awkward moments soon disappeared from memory.

Previous performances have always been full of audience participation, with the usual boos, hisses and ‘he’s behind you’ catchphrases and this was no different.

Young and old, the whole audience shouted and clapped throughout, which brought the best out of the cast.

With a sprinkling of Elvis and Star Wars jokes throughout, plus an incredibly random but fun end of show sing-a-long (it was about a £1 fish – still not sure why?) this year’s performance was an absolute cracker.

Colin Ainscough