Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Milton Keynes)
Warwick Davis leads another polished pantomime at the Milton Keynes Theatre
Milton Keynes has long held a reputation for presenting one of the region's finest, most polished and probably best-financed pantomimes.
With Warwick Davis at the helm of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, this year's rep is in safe hands.
Davis is enjoying something of a late bloom in his long career, due in no small part to his extensive television and film catalogue, which includes Harry Potter films, Star Wars and most recently some well-deserved exposure from Ricky Gervais. In this show, he not only plays the leader of the dwarfs, here named Prof, but also assumes directorial duties, which he accomplishes with style and plenty of fun.
His partners among the troupe of little folk are also highly enjoyable, not least his father-in-law Peter Burroughs and a wonderfully irreverent turn from Peter Bonner as the aptly named Cheeky.
Elsewhere, Kate Stewart is in lovely voice as the eponymous heroine, well-matched against her handsome prince, Shaun Dalton, while soap favourite Jennifer Ellison and the sure-footed comedian Kev Orkian provide much of the fun and villainy as the Wicked Queen and her unwilling sidekick Herbert.
Eric Potts' script feels, at times, a little under-powered by his own high standards, but there's some terrific live music from a five-piece band led by musical director Barry Robinson, plus some impressive effects and an energetic ensemble, supplemented by well-drilled youngsters from the Myra Tiffin Performing Arts School.
It's a delightful, confident production that's performed with a twinkle in its eye and a relish of the traditions of pantomime, setting an enjoyable tone for the holidays ahead.