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Review: Snow White, Sunderland Empire, until January 4 2015

This year's offering packs in everything one might to find in pantoland, and a bit more besides. Tamzin Mackie took her kids along

****
Snow White at the Sunderland Empire
Snow White at the Sunderland Empire

The gags fly thick and fast in Sunderland’s Snow White – with most hitting the mark but a few plunging into the pit. The fairytale is the vehicle on which to load up the trends of 2014, taking in loom bands, selfies and even plebeians (think Andrew Mitchell).

And of course, in addition to some Disney classics, the pantomime encompasses the big pop hits – including Pharrell Williams’ Happy and Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off.

Snow White opens with plenty of ‘Oh yes I ams’ from Su Pollard’s Wicked Queen, who goes on to insult everyone from the musicians to the audience, branded ‘the great unwashed’. And although suitably boo-able, the Hi-de-Hi! actress is rather one-dimensional, lacking in villainous charm and humour.

Fortunately the double act of local lad Philip Meeks as the brassy Nurse Penny Well and Balamory’s Andrew Agnew as gormless Muddles provide charisma and laughs aplenty. After last year’s risqué Ugly Sisters in Cinderella, this double act is totally family friendly and the silliness less lewd and more scatological.

The show is brimming with fun, and I’m a sucker for the obvious jokes such as “I’ve been to Lidl to buy three litres of tipex… it was a big mistake.”

Also in the mix is former EastEnders star Matt Lapinskas, whose presence in tights as the Prince attracted a bucket load of screaming in the box behind us.

His rendition of Magic!’s Rude is sweet as a Christmas cake-pop and he is the perfect match for Victoria Serra, as every little girl’s dream Snow White. However the Prince is best when engaging in slapstick alongside Muddles and Penny Well.

One roof-raising highlight is the hilarious rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas, which fizzes with madcap mayhem. And another is the crazy ghost scene, which had my five year old leaping around to The Lego Movie’s Everything is Awesome.

“This never happens to Kim Kardashian,” says Penny Well as she falls on her backside. Fortunately this is less reality and more fantasy, sprinkled with panto daft-dust.

Tamzin Mackie

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