Dreaming of a Snow White Christmas

Ben Faulks and Kate Anthony in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Buxton Opera House.
Ben Faulks and Kate Anthony in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Buxton Opera House.

Buxton was already under an inch of slush this time last week – fingers crossed the weather between now and the New Year doesn’t interfere with getting to the Opera House panto.

Because this is one you won’t want to miss. It’s a polished, upbeat version of Snow White, with the best Seven Dwarfs I’ve seen in a long time.

They’re rotund, knee-high and masked to look just like the Disney movie, with booming male voices which don’t exactly match the girls’ names listed in the programme, and they hobble, stumble and gesture exactly on cue.

Snow White (Olivia Sloyan) is straight off the big screen as well, in gold and royal blue, and as sweet and tuneful as you’d wish. Likewise her dishy Prince, (Richard Meek) who gets a comic moment or two as well.

It’s a multi-accented production: a Scottish Dame Dolly Dewdrop (Gordon Cooper), Mummerset farmer (Ashley Bowden) and Brummie baddie (Jamie Brook); even the Wicked Queen lapses into Lancashire now and again. Kate Anthony throws herself into the role, much nastier than Corrie’s sharp-tongued Aunty Pam, her small-screen alter ego.

This is definitely panto for the kids, though possibly not under-threes; several didn’t react well to the Queen, though they loved the slapstick from the Dame and court jester Muddles (CBeebies’ Ben Faulks), including a Strictly Ann Widdecombe moment.

There’s not an unsuitable joke in sight, and lots of familiar gags: among others, zombies who scarper when they see the Dame, and a sunflower which grows to the top of the stage. Topical references come thick and fast: The X-Factor, Strictly, a flame-haired, bespectacled Spirit of the Forest who did her training at Hogwarts.

The Opera House panto is always good value, and Snow White is one of their best. It runs till New Year’s Day.