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Snow White at The Liverpool Empire

by Miranda Humphreys-Green. Published Fri 16 Dec 2016 11:23, last updated: 16/12/16
(c) Mark McNulty
(c) Mark McNulty

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work I go… Yes, another festive treat at Liverpool’s Empire. This time it’s Snow White, showing until 31st December. It’s a tough job but somebody’s got to do it.

Armed with my press goodies of a bag of sour apple sweeties, a large wine, delivered to my seat through the Empire’s very civilised bar service, and a four year old (the last two I provided myself), things looked promising. Add a soap celeb (Hollyoak’s Jorgie Porter) and a local treasure (Leanne Campbell), a court clown in the mould of Frank Spencer (Liam Mellor’s Muddles) and some hi-tech stage effects and we were off.

It’s a story of highs and lows, all 7 of them (boom boom): Snow White’s parents die in mysterious circumstances and her wicked stepmother Queen Morgiana (Leanne Campbell) ascends the throne. Not content with ruling the kingdom, she’s also determined to be the most beautiful woman in town. Snow White (Jorgie Porter) provides unwelcome competition so the dour Herman the Henchman (Colin Connor) is despatched to make her disappear. Not quite having the heart to do it, he abandons her in the woods, where she is taken in by seven short people – Prof, Loopy, Sniffley, Blusher, Cheeky, Grumbly and Snoozy.

So far so wicked. Comic relief is provided in the form of Muddles who camply capers through the plot, and the day is saved by Prince Brian (Stephen Fletcher). Another Radio City stalwart, Pete Price, cameos as the Mirror.

If Jorgie Porter was channeling her inner Marilyn – coy and a touch breathless (especially after her big numbers) – then Leanne Campbell reincarnated Cilla, belting out numbers such as Feeling Good and Sweet Dreams in what turns out to be a fine baritone. Seriously, who knew, from the evidence of the incredibly high pitched Breakfast Song on her morning show on Radio City, that she had such a lorra power in the lower range?

Not quite evil enough for my taste, the delivery of her lines veered between faux posh and comedic broad Scouse for when the evil Queen’s mask of propriety slips. However, she also opted to address the audience on an ascending scale, ending each sentence on a literal high note that, after a while, ceased to be perplexing and just became irritating. “Don’t you just love me?” is the Queen’s refrain. Erm, honestly, in that moment, no. But it’s just a minor quibble about what is actually a solid performance.

Snoozy? Well, like the dwarf, just a bit in the first half where some of the jokes were as stunted as the little people. But the tempo increases after the interval, after the story is largely told and we are firmly into the territory of audience participation. The dwarves medley of Beatles songs were a crowd-pleaser because, after all, nobody loves like Beatles like a Merseysider (I’m not one; can you tell?) Scott English’s Prof deserves especial mention for being in fine voice. But the real crescendo came with the bonkers and high-energy Twelve Days of Christmas, as performed in relay by the irrepressible Muddles, Herman the Henchman and Price Brian of Birkenhead. Loo rolls are flung aloft and an auditorium-wide game of hoopla ensues. Plus there is the inevitable and much loved assault of the audience with water pistols.

The dancers, by the way, were great, both big and small (children provided by the Empire Youth Theatre and Dolphin Dance Studios.) Somewhat shoehorned into the show, the troupe turns out as fairies and insects in the woods to prance and flutter around Snow White but, hi ho, it’s panto and panto is nothing if not an assortment box of chocolates.

All in all, this is a robust and professional show with lots of whizz bangery that’s sure to entertain the tots.

Snow White,
The Liverpool Empire Theatre
10th-31st December,
PR Rating: *** Nice



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