Billy Pearce is as much as a Bradford institution as curry houses and wool mills. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is Pearce’s 21st consecutive pantomime at the Alhambra, and from the minute he bursts on to stage, it’s easy to see why he’s so well loved.
While the Alhambra’s Snow White is very much a traditional panto, it is director Ed Curtis’ wise decision to play to his cast’s strengths, which is the main selling point. So, among all the usual panto elements – there’s Wicked Queen Faye Tozer reminding us of her Strictly success with a ‘dance-off’ with Pearce, and Paul Chuckle taking part in some daft sketches that wouldn’t be out of place on Chucklevision.
Then there’s Pearce, who’s an absolute bundle of energy, full of ad-libs, asides to the audience and catchphrases. He’s a natural at interacting with the audience, makes a great comic foil for Chuckle, and in one especially hilarious scene, proves himself to be a master lip-syncer.
It’s clear there’s a big budget behind the Alhambra’s panto, and it’s money well spent – from the lavish sets and some impressive special effects to create the Queen’s mirror, to an enormous dinosaur terrifying the small children in the front rows, not a penny has been wasted.
Tozer also makes for a surprisingly great villain, camping it up a treat and soaking up the hisses and boos, before performing a Steps melody as an encore. If you’ve never seen Paul Chuckle doing the dance to Tragedy, you’re not doing Christmas right.