Reviewed by Jenny Bray
I love the atmosphere at pantomimes. It’s a really relaxed way of attending the theatre with the whole family at a friendly show with audience participation and comedy thrown in. This year’s pantomime at the Victoria is Snow White.
I’d never been to the Victoria Theatre in Halifax before but it was signposted and easy to find. There was also lots of parking nearby. We managed to utilise on street parking on the road it is on, which also had the bonus of being free after 6pm and only about a one minute walk back in the freezing and icy cold. The theatre is right on a corner in the town centre, which sounds inaccessible, but wasn’t at all. It’s a traditional theatre with 3 tiers of seating. There are kiosks that sell popcorn and ice cream by the entrance and a bar on the lower level. The staff were all welcoming and friendly.
The storyline follows the standard plot of the wicked stepmother queen (Felicity Skiera) needing to get rid of Snow (Jess Pritchard) as she is to become the fairest of them all, to Snow moving in with the dwarfs then being struck down by a poisoned apple before being rescued. There were several well-known songs dotted throughout. Not least, were two from The Greatest Showman that my children sang along to. There was also a very current annoying song mentioned a few times! I liked the wicked queen’s rendition of Alice Cooper’s Poison and loved her outfit. My 4-year-old was a little scared of her when she first appeared but was soon joining in booing her. She is funny with the things she calls Snow throughout the show.
There’s also the addition of Jingles The Jester (Neil Hurst) and Dame Dolly Mixture (Jolyon Dixon) weaved in to the storyline. They have some great scenes, including a messy kitchen one near the start and one that involves a quest for potential endless honey. Neil Hurst has been in the Halifax panto for 10 years now, the same time that Imagine Theatre has been putting the show on for each year. Jolyon Dixon is also a panto veteran, although not just at Halifax. He is also a genuine comedian when not in panto so had the ability to ad lib when needed, although I’d find it hard to choose which of them was funniest and they worked really well together. There was one scene where neither of them could stop laughing, which was infectious amongst the audience as we all ended up laughing at them even more. They both knew how to work the crowd.
The 7 dwarfs are characterised through puppets attached to and animated by ‘normal’ height people wearing matching coloured capes and hats. This was unusual to see but worked well. They also all had slightly random names but I’ve recently had a conversation about this elsewhere and believe this is because Disney own the rights to the original names. The name of the 7th in this production made the children, and a few of the adults, in the audience laugh!
The Dame had a number of outfit changes throughout the show, each suitably outrageous. I particularly liked the brownie outfit. An audience member was duly picked on towards the start of the show and then mentioned a few times during the show.
The stage had several different material backdrops that were used for different scenes, as well as more solid scenes for the palace, kitchen and dwarfs house. The palace was very colourful and slightly cartoony, in keeping with panto settings.
At the end the cast did some audience participation pieces. They read out some audience birthdays, got some children from the audience to do a sing-a-long and then did a last song.
The show started at 6.30, which meant that there were several younger audience members, which is always nice to see. The times of the shows are particularly well suited for making it inclusive for families with younger children. However, there were also groups of older people there, without any children, showing that panto really is for all ages. My 3 children, aged 8, 6 and 4 came along and all loved it. It was great to see them laughing so much and joining in singing and dancing. They also absolutely loved Jingle’s catchphrase and joining in with both the song and the actions each time.
The gags had all age ranges laughing, although there were also several just for the adults, that went over the children’s heads. Some were quite corny, but that’s also what panto is all about, both the genuine laughter and the slight groans that some comments and quips elicit.
This is a great show that is also good value for money. I rate it 4.5/5 and recommend it for a festive family trip out… Oh yes I do…
Tickets cost from £15 (booking fees may apply).
Snow White is at the Victoria Theatre in Halifax from 13 December 2018 to 5 January 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit visit www.calderdale.gov.uk/victoria or call the box office on 01422 351158.
Victoria Theatre, Fountain Street, Halifax, HX1 1BP | 01422 351158