Evil has its own brand of glamour – especially when it's personified by Craig Revel Horwood as Queen Lucretia in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Cliffs Pavilion, Southend.
This Lucretia, sister of the late king and usurping aunt of rightful queen Snow White, is definitely of the Borgia rather than the Collantinus family. Horwood successfully upstages everyone else with a succession of dazzling costumes, smart dancing (choreography by Christian Storm) and a dominating stage personality.
In this version of the story (written by Jonathan Kiley, Tudor Davis and Alan McHugh), the dwarves are no Nibelung-style miners but seven courtiers loyal to the former king and to Snow White and so banished when Lucretia seizes power. Still at court, though only just managing it, are the Major (Dawson Chance) and court jester Muddles (Paul Burling).
Lucretia has a lady's maid, Lisa. Lisa Riley uses her former Emmerdale character Mandy and her subsequent Strictly Come Dancing appearances to good effect; Lisa knows too much about her mistress to be as subservient as Lucretia might wish, and the audience is on her side from her first appearance.
The nominal heroine, though Cordelia Farnworth looks charming and sings Olly Ashmore's score very well, is something of a secondary character in this staging. It is her suitor Prince Edward of Essex (the script is replete with local references), played by Chris Ellis-Stanton, who is the main foil to the Queen. Len Goodman is the pre-filmed face and voice of the magic mirror.
Six adult dancers and eight juveniles make up the chorus. The dwarves are also played by children; heavily masked and with pre-recorded adult voices. The scene changes and special effects work well and the children at the preview I attended loved Chance's series of ventriloquist puppets, especially the piddling puppy Pipi.
For my money, there's rather too much of Burling's funny voices, though he establishes a strong rapport with his young audience. But it's really Horwood's show with all the other players merely satellites. Not that anyone – young or old – objects.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is at the Cliffs Pavilion, Southend until 4 January.