WHEN Bath’s Wicked Queen looks in her magic mirror and asks “Who is the most beautiful of them all?” the image that looks back at her is undoubtedly beautiful, but her heart is black and full of jealousy.
Harriet Thorpe, making her pantomime debut at “the picture postcard perfect” (her words) Bath Theatre Royal, brings a wealth of experience to the role of Snow White’s step mother.
Her range is formidable – from West End musicals to hit television shows including Absolutely Fabulous (where she played Fleur), seven series of The Brittas Empire, French and Saunders, Girls on Top and The Comic Strip. She has appeared in Midsomer Murders, Doctors, The Musketeers and Hollyoaks, and performed Abba’s Dancing Queen with her AbFab co-star Helen Lederer on this year’s Let’s Dance for Comic Relief. On film she has appeared in Calendar Girls, Life is Sweet, Maurice and AbFab The Movie.
Her theatre credits range from Great Britain at the National Theatre and playing Her Ladyship in the acclaimed production of The Dresser with Ken Stott and Reece Shearsmith, to Mme Thenardier in Les Miserables, Fraulein Kost in Cabaret, Tanya in Mamma Mia and Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd.
In fact, she has been so busy that she has never had time to fit in pantomime, and it is Bath’s good fortune that this sharp-witted, versatile and intelligent actress is making her debut this year.
She is fascinated by the history of the theatre at Bath and other theatres where she has worked, such as the Haymarket, with a history that dates back to 1720, where John Gielgud lived during the Second World War, when the theatres kept working – and audiences kept coming. “We really need ‘Dr Theatre’ now too,” she says.
Harriet comes from a creative family – her father was an actor who worked as a teenager in London during the Blitz and in touring, rep and at the Old Vic after the war. Her mother was writer Gillian Freeman, whose work included The Leather Boys, filmed in 1964 with Rita Tushingham, Colin Campbell and Dudley Sutton.
Her opposite number as the good dame versus the bad queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs will be the endearing Nick Wilton as Dame Dolly the nanny.
Nick is making a welcome return to Bath where he has now established a successful comedy partnership with the much-loved and multi-talented Jon Monie (who is playing Muddles the jester).
Fans of Nick may think they are seeing double over Christmas as he will also be on television as the market manager in East Enders.
Snow White is played by Devon-Elise Johnson, who has just spent a year playing the lead role of Ann Pornick in Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Half A Sixpence. The Prince is Jamie Quinn.
The Seven Dwarves will include Glynn Jones, who is a panto veteran and first played in Snow White more than 30 years ago, and Jamie Legg who has worked on films including Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean and Clash of the Titans. This will be his 15th pantomime and his first in Bath.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is at Bath from 7th December to 7th January. One innovation this year is an extension of number of days when there are performances at 1pm and 5pm, ideal for families during the Christmas holidays.
For more information on timings and to book visit www.theatreroyal.co.uk
Pictured: Harriet Thorpe as the Wicked Queen, Nick Wilton as Dame Dolly, Jon Monie as Muddles, Devon-Elise Johnson as Snow White and Glynn Jones and Jamie Legg as Kip and Sneezer, two of the Seven Dwarfs. Photographs by Freia Turland.