WHAT do you need for a terrific pantomime?
There could be lots of answers but I suggest a strong and familiar story, lots of songs, colourful costumes and sets, an exuberant Dame, a witty knockabout, an attractive central couple and a really hissable villain.
Perform it in what is probably the prettiest theatre in the UK, and Bath’s 2017/18 offering is a sure-fire hit … and that’s before we even mention the seven dwarfs, all of whom have distinctively Disney -free personalities and lots to do.
Harriet Thorpe, who’s been in Ab Fab and sung Madame Thenardier, tackles her first pantomime with all the gusto the villainous Wicked Queen needs, and even manages my favourite panto joke of the year at the expense of Mr Michael Gove.
Nick Wilton has stepped into the bra and the sparkling relationship with Jon Monie, left vacant by the death of Chris Harris. Nick is a charming dame. This year Jon makes sense of the jester Muddles, by inspired muddling of his words and letters to the delight of the children, and also the keen-eared adults in the audience.
There are routines without which the Bath pantomime would flag, and this year the duo is joined for the “bench and gho’ss (no T allowed)” scene by the hunky prince Frederick of Frome, in the person of Michael Quinn.
The duo is joined by small person Simeon Dyer (Smiler) for the accelerating Twelve Days of Christmas. They’ll need him back for the next version!
Devon-Elise Johnson is a sprited Snow White, and it’s nice to hear a big voiced prince.
Watch out for the determined dwarfs, singing all the original songs. With Simeon, Chris Chapman is Pop, Steve Cox is Twitcher, Glynn Jones is Kip, James Legg the constant Sneezer and Mark Sealey the wonderfully lugubrious Grouchy, with Sarah Knowles as Soppy.
It’s the energy, the invention and the broad comedy that you remember about this pantomime, which has something for everyone and revolves round its jester, its dame and its glamorously powerful baddie.
It’s on until Sunday 7th January.
Photograps by Freia Turland