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Review: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Opera House

I’m cough years old but a good pantomime won’t fail to touch even the most jadedcynical, grown up of adults. And this was no exception.

In fact, and at the risk of over-exuberance (although at the time of writing I’ve had a 12 hour cooling off period) I’d say this was the bar by which pantomimes should be set.

I know!

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (dwarves isn’t the plural of dwarf – who knew?) at the Opera House, Manchester, is quite simply a masterclass in panto.

Craig Revel Horwood as the Queen was truly Wicked in every sense of the word. Flamboyant, devilishly funny and quite simply screamingly fab-u-lous. What a set of lungs too. Oo-indeed-err.

The Strictly refs came thick and fast but each one landing perfectly (‘out of 10, I’d give him 1…’) and the charisma exuded by this evil queen (indeed) was second to none.

Eric Potts was the ultimate, ultimate Dame! From his cheeky look at the princes’s testimonials, there wasn’t a pun unchecked, a camp aside left unspoken or outrageous outfit left unworn.

Ben Nickless as Muddles barely drew breath during the entire performance and was a triumph as panto Master of Ceremonies.

From 0-100mph the second he took to the stage, the impressions (his Mark Owen just killed me) , cheeky gags, physical comedy and engagement with the audience was second to none. Variety, vaudeville, call it what you want, but it was bloody brilliant.

The three actors together had incredible chemistry and gave us some wonderful laugh out loud moments (I rarely laugh out loud, reader, even the mirthiest of moments will usually lead only to a weird expelling of breath) but I laughed until actual tears came down.

If you’re not belly laughing at the tongue-twister scene or the 12 days of Christmas skit, we cannot be friends.

Zoe George served up a simply perfect princess Snow White as did Joshua St Clair as Prince Harry – pitch perfect and leaving us believing in the love story.

The ‘Magnificent Seven’ had less stage time than expected, but made the most of their scenes, with enough ‘top bantz’ to make you hi-ho-ho-ho (yes, sorry…)

The script also gave great Manchester, with local references aplenty including some saucy refs to a cockatoo on canal street, with nothing in the wider stratosphere was off limits including Prince Andrew and Boris Johnson – the perfect balance of laughs for the kids and under the radar gags for the grown ups.

With such talented cast and performances, the show would be forgiven for resting on its laurels but the production values were spell binding.

The relatively simple sets complimented the magical costumes perfectly and with a couple of surprises literally springing out into the audience, the fourth wall was there to be broken both visually and in the knowing patter throughout.

I think I’ve waxed quite lyrically now and will go have a lie down.

Give yourself an early Christmas present and head to the Opera House immediately, if not sooner. And before Sunday 29 December, 2019.

For full details and tickets head to https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/snow-white/opera-house-manchester/

Categories
Culture Events Manchester Popular culture preview Preview/review The Arts Theatre

Review: The Manchester Project at Christmas. At HOME

I love a good kick-start to the festive season.

For some it’s a trip to Dunham Massey’s ever popular lights extravaganza, some a performance of The Nutcracker, for some the appearance of the ‘red cups’ or even seeing Zippy being put together outside the Town Hall (Rest in Peace).

This year I spring-boarded into the season by heading HOME to see The Manchester Project at Christmas.

Brought to us by  Monkeywood  theatre company, Manchester is the heartbeat of everything they do.

The company ask the questions,

what does it mean to be a mancunian? what is it like to live here?

and just this piece of theatre does a pretty good job of answering, as the project delivers up a ‘theatrical map of Manchester’, with 14 shorts, each focusing on an area (aside from one, which centres on our very own HOME).

The Manchester Project at Christmas – HOME Friday 6th until Monday 30th December 2019 Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk http://www.jasonlock.co.uk

With a company of six local actors (Cynthia Emeagi, Zoe Iqbal, Reuben Johnson, Andrew Sheridan, Samantha Siddall and Gurjeet Singh),  and each play brought to us by writers from across the city, it really is the ultimate Christmas gift of homegrown talent. I should at this point out that sadly Samantha Siddall was ill (get well soon) and her parts were taken by writer and producer Sarah McDonald Hughes. And brilliantly so.

A little of the production itself, the gallery has been transformed into a theatre space but one which is incredibly relaxed and feels decidedly ‘fringe’.

Take your seat at one of the many tables dotted around, set down your drink, and sit back whilst combinations of the six actors perform on a sparse stage the only props being white boxes adorned with the name of the 14 focal places:

The Manchester Project at Christmas – HOME Friday 6th until Monday 30th December 2019 Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk http://www.jasonlock.co.uk

HOME, Little Hulton, Middleton, Strangeways, Crumpsall, Shaw, Hulme, Whalley Range, Chorlton, Cheetham Hill, Moss Side, Wythenshawe, Old Trafford and Timperley.

I’ll never get this review out before Boxing Day if I write about each short, so whilst all were entertaining, touching in their own way, I’ll pull out a couple:

Chorlton – a touching story of a separated couple who we learn meet up annually at the graveside of the daughter they lost when she was 6 years old. In just a few short lines, we quickly discover a warmth between the exes which perhaps was previously destroyed by their shared loss.

Cheetham Hill – a laugh out loud performance by Zoe Iqbal, selling cheap knock-offs  the genuine thing like a goodun, working the audience with brilliant timing and wit.

With a Santa hat as a prop and passed round like a baton between the plays, The Manchester Project covers homelessness, crime, immigration, teenage pregnancy, bereavement, Frank Sidebottom and ferret racing. It really does.

The Manchester Project at Christmas – HOME Friday 6th until Monday 30th December 2019 Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk http://www.jasonlock.co.uk

And it’s a celebration of not only the Manchester area, Manchester people and the talent we harbour in this fine city, but a brilliant way to kick start your Christmas.

The Manchester Project at Christmas – HOME Friday 6th until Monday 30th December 2019 Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk http://www.jasonlock.co.uk

Not only that, you get some extra bang for your buck and a drag dessert to your main on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights in the shape of Miss Blair’s TV special (celebrating our favourite British icons at Christmas,  or the Ho Ho Holiday Comedy Hour on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays featuring the likes of Mrs Barbara Nice.

So what are you waiting for? Your house looks like it’s vomited fairy lights, you’ve begun the ritualistic ‘sod it it’s Christmas’ to excuse bad behaviour and you’ve become afflicted with Twiglet fingers.

Give yourself the early gift of Manchester with The Manchester Project, on until 30 December 2019.

For more details of the production and to buy tickets, head to https://homemcr.org/production/the-manchester-project-at-christmas/