Consistently punching above its weight, the Towngate pantomime in Basildon may not boast the star names and lavish budgets of Qdos’ offering at the Palladium, but it remains a benchmark of what a family pantomime can achieve.
Brad Fitt’s book fuses a classic story with contemporary humour, steadfastly refusing to gloss over Snow White’s themes of loss, revenge and love.
The storytelling is accompanied by Matthew Reeve’s ambitious musical arrangements, while choreographer Aisling Duffy orchestrates her own breathtaking narrative which in turn gives the Towngate pantomime its signature style. Dancing is a major part of the appeal and in this, the year of the Floss, the dance numbers are bigger and better than ever.
One of things that makes this pantomime exceptional is producer, director and comedy lead Simon Fielding. It’s undoubtedly a labour of love; Fielding has his finger on the pulse of current trends and he peppers the production with familiar, fun routines.
As usual, Fielding is aided and abetted by Sophie Ladds, who interprets the Wicked Queen as a Rhineland dominatrix to great comic effect. Add to the mixture the genius casting of TV’s favourite Essex boy Rylan Clark-Neal as the Magic Mirror and it all adds up to a spectacular entertainment with something for everybody to enjoy.