Snow White, Royal Spa Centre, Leamington, to Jan 5.
Dick Whittington at the Spa Centre last year was the panto that broke my no-panto rule.
My two sons Charlie and Alex ([pictured right) loved it so much that they demanded they come back again. For months afterwards they would sing "Hello Dolly! Hello Neil!" at each other.
So I was delighted to see the excellent JP McCue back as this year’s panto dame in Snow White. Fortunately for the kids she’s still called Dolly but this year she is on stage with her evil twin sister Holly.
In vertiginous high-heels, Dolly and Holly go through elaborate costume changes as they cackle their way through the script. The kids instantly love Dolly and boo evil Holly.
The storyline is fairly incidental, but everyone knows it anyway, so there’s ample opportunity to throw in a few panto classics that don’t feature in the original fairytale.
This year its Christmas-jumper clad Ian who is Dolly’s audience member of choice. Cursing the fact he swopped seats with his father-in-law, Ian finds himself helping to create an inside-outside feature wall with wallpaper and foam paste.
There’s the inevitable "it’s behind you!" scene and plenty of tricks from Magic Max played excellently by Sean Dodds.
Overall it’s panto perfection. There are songs, puppetry, slapstick humour, flying toilet rolls and a good old sing-along.
The community cast excel, filling the stage as courtiers and woodland animals. I was also secretly pleased that in a 21st century twist, Snow White doesn’t marry the prince but instead simply allows him to move in to the castle.
The kids' verdicts? "It was good!" they chorus. I brace myself for the months of "Hello Dolly!" That are to follow. Panto - don’t you just love it?
For tickets call the box office on: 01926 334418.