Our local theatre puts together a panto cast of comedy gold - oh, yes, they do!
When I was little my grandparents took my brothers and I to the pantomime at the Mercury Theatre every year - I remember those experiences as being the most magical of my childhood. So when I moved back to Colchester in 2015, after more than 20 years away, introducing Bean to the joys of screaming, "He's behind you!" at the top of your lungs was high on my to-do list.
Later than usual this year we attended last night's performance of Snow White & the Seven Dwarves. (Never fear, there is still time to catch it as it runs till January 14th). Some technical difficulties enforced an early and slightly extended interval, but in true Mercury fashion, the backstage staff didn't give up, the show did go on, where many theatres would have simply cancelled, and the cast made the most of the gags they could wring from the interruption.
Chief amongst the ad-libbers was Nellie the Nurse, played by Antony Stuart-Hicks - truly the funniest, cleverest, most scathing pantomime dame I have ever encountered (and with the BEST taste in shoes!). Luckily for Bean and I, our three years' (and counting) of visiting the panto has coincided with this repeat casting of the comedy gold that is the partnership of Stuart-Hicks and the hilarious and adorable Dale Superville (Muddles) who manages to bring an innocence that children respond to, and yet also acts as a perfect foil for Nellie's more saucy innuendo.
We've heard rumours those two are signed up for many years to come, and if the Mercury knows what is good for them (and us!) they will also never let go of the hugely talented Carli Norris, who schemes, scoffs and sings suprisingly well (including an impressive Shirley Bassey impression), as well as putting up with some spectacular goading from Nellie and Muddles, including a fair few Eastenders jibes!
This panto has all the audience participation favourites of yesteryear, and a stand-out version of the Marx brothers' mirror scene, but lots of fresh touches too - the dwarves, for example, are actually wonderfully realised puppets, expertly voiced by the cast, the music is fresh and current, and the sets are innovative and enchanting.
If you can grab some of the last remaining tickets for this show then do - you can thank me later. But if not, be sure to pounce as soon as the 2018 tickets are released - they sell out incredibly fast, and if this show is anything to go by, you really won't want to miss it!
Last few tickets here: https://www.mercurytheatre.co....