10-31 December 2016
Reviewed by Jan Mellor
The welcome at the foyer of the Liverpool Empire Theatre of ‘elves’ and ‘pixies’ and flashing magic wands, stars and laser wands really set me and my 12 year old in the mood for a Christmas panto. I wasn’t sure if at 12 he would be too old but you would never know if you don’t try!
The panto started with a brief history of the pantomime and I learnt that Britain was the only country with a 300 year history of having this wonderful Christmas tradition. The opening scene displayed all the famous names (Cilla Black, Brian Blessed, Henry Winkler, Elton John) who had graced the stage (to the delight of the mums & dads more that the kids). The panto started with the evil stepmother (played delightfully by Leanne Campbell – from Radio City in Liverpool) and quickly the audience were in their booing and hissing raptures. Snow White (played wonderfully by Hollyoaks’ Jorgie Porter) came onto the stage with an entourage of dancers (children and adults) to a dynamic rendition of “Got sunshine in my pocket” and “Just got the feeling” – broken up by a hilarious spoof of Honey Gee (X Factor). There were references to places in Liverpool (Sefton Park and Skelmersdale) and Herman the Henchman (played brilliantly by Colin Connor) was given the name as “Brian from Birkenhead”. The scene-stealer was Liam Mellor who played Muddles – he was funny and camp and had the audience participating with ‘Cracking’ at every opportunity. Muddles love for Snow White was delivered in a very funny gag around the names of chocolate bars.
The plot continued with Panto favourite Pete Price playing the part as the magic mirror and the show’s magical scenes and costumes were interspersed with modern songs and references (Pokémon Go! In the woods). The 7 dwarfs surprised the audience by walking through the auditorium to ‘Hi-Ho’ and with Ghoulies doing their rendition of ‘Thriller’ and the dwarfs welcoming Snow White to their home singing ‘Welcome to the house of fun’. The first half came to an end.
The second half burst into life with ‘Wake up it’s a beautiful morning’ and ‘Sweet dreams’ – but the show-stopper was the gents display of ’12 Days of Christmas’ with ‘5 toilet rolls’ being thrown into the audience and an energetic Muddles retrieving them, then squirting squealing kids (and parents alike) with water! The dwarfs dressed as the Beatles was brilliant and the transition of the wicked stepmother into the wicked witch was clever and realistic.
The show finished with Muddles giving out birthday wishes and getting two children on stage to read out “one smart fella – he felt smart” –which as planned ended up with loads of ‘farts’ mispronounced much to the delight of the audience. My son thought it was brilliant and sang along throughout – just shows you’re never too old for a pantomime!
The first half lacked audience participation and a lot of the gags were lost on the children but it improved in the second half and grew into a very entertaining show. It was fun, well-acted, had great local references and was rather magical. It was great value for money – being over 2.5 hours long and with local references and celebrities – made the whole experience very Liverpool-owned. Really enjoyable and entertaining!
Tickets cost from £11 to £37 (plus £2.85 transaction fee).
Snow White is at the Liverpool Empire until 31 December 2016. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 8713017.
Liverpool Empire Theatre, Lime Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1 1JE | 0844 8713017