Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to the Wycombe Swan theatre we go! Sorry.
No, wait… I take it back… I’m not sorry, because there’s just something about this time of year that means we take ourselves a little less seriously, don’tcha think? Bad jumpers become acceptable, cheesy songs are blasted with impunity and garish decorating isn’t just welcomed, but admired and celebrated.
Which is why the Christmas pantomime is such a treasured part of the UK’s festive calendar: the over-the-top characters, the risqué jokes, the goofy physical comedy. It’s literally impossible to come out of the pantomime not feeling happier than you went in.
This weekend we were invited to watch Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Wycombe Swan, alongside dancing bad boy Brendan Cole in the role of The Huntsman. The Xmas Panto has become an annual tradition for me and the girls (OH isn’t overly fussed, so we make it a girls’ day out), so we were really excited to go along, and enjoy a bite to eat first in the theatre restaurant.
What I loved about booking a table was that we got to make a whole day of it – we arrived early and ordered a bite to eat and a drink (juice for the girls, sneaky glass of wine for Mummy) and it gave us a chance to relax, and check out the lolly trolley before the crowds started arriving.
The other good thing was that the table was ours for the remainder of the day – when we came out for our half-time we had a place to sit and scoff our ice cream tubs.
From the moment the curtain went up, the girls were transfixed. The first thing I noticed was how stunning the set was – a towering backdrop of shining spires and glittering turrets.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is one of the world’s best-loved tales. The pantomime version remains more faithful to the original Grimm Brothers story (which never actually named the seven dwarfs, and Disney retains the right to the names it used in the 1938 film, so don’t be surprised to hear some variations to the ones you’re familiar with) and there are some fun festive extras added to the stage version, including that flamboyant panto essential – the Dame (Nurse Nancy, played by Jason Sutton), and comic character, Muddles.
Played by Kieran Powell and ‘Friends’ (yes I’m being deliberately vague – no spoilers here!), Muddles is the lovable light relief who’ll keep you giggling in your seat – especially during the cringingly hilarious audience participation parts. I’m literally still laughing at one poor dad dragged up for his unexpected stage debut.
Of course all the favourite characters were there – Naomi Cowe and Robert Tripolino were sweet as the love-struck royals, Snow White and Prince Harry, while Britain’s Got Talent star Mandy Muden played the spirit of the mirror. Brendan Cole brought the fancy footwork as The Huntsman (complete with plenty of sly Strictly Come Dancing digs), while Natalie Spriggs was a devilish delight as Queen Lucretia (my favourite character from the show).
Then, of course, there was the ‘Magnificent Seven’ the adorable woodland dwarfs who take Snow White in and help save her from Queen Lucretia’s narcissistic scheming.
The show was fast-paced and visually gorgeous – the ensemble cast and the child actors were brilliant, and even the teensy bloopers were handled with such humour they actually added to the show. I couldn’t believe how quickly it went (let’s just say there’ve been pantos in the past that I’ve willed to move a little faster…).
But that wasn’t the end of the fun, as I’d arranged with the amazing Wycombe Swan staff to have the girls go up on stage for the final comedy skit with Muddles. I can honestly say I’d rather pull out my own pancreas than stand in front of a sell-out crowd of 1000 people, but the girls have inherited Daddy’s confidence and were absolutely thrilled to be chosen.
Afterwards, the cherry on the top of our day – a chance to go backstage and meet the cast.
Thanks Wycombe Swan, for our very merry Christmas pantomime!
• book your tickets to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from the Wycombe Swan website.
Disclosure: our lunch and pantomime tickets were provided for the purpose of review