Life is stressful. There is always something sent to try us. Yesterday en route to the Pantomime, which we’ve been looking forward to for months, we arrive late because a journey that should have taken an hour and 20 minutes, took 3. Starving, flustered, tired and grumbly by the time we arrived (30 minutes after the performance started) we’d anticipated that nothing could bring us out of our traffic funk. How wrong we were. It took no more than 3 minutes for our moods to be uplifted.
That’s what’s magical about the Pantomime, particularly those at the Bristol Hippodrome. Whatever is going on in life, live entertainment is extremely powerful and the Pantomime is light-hearted, silly, cheeky, family fun. It brings families closer together, lifts spirits and sets the mood for a wonderful season. It’s perfect escapism in a time that can be extremely trying.
Local panto veteran Andy Ford (this is his 7th Bristol Pantomime in a row) is a reason to see the show alone. His local references, well timed blusher and tidbits as well as his light-hearted demeanour and panto-puns is a great constant we look forward to every year and is clearly beloved by all. He truly is the Bristol panto. Accompanying Andy in the pantomime jester/simple Simon role this year was Andy Day, the Cbeebies presented and actor. The duo work incredibly insync to deliver the pantomime comedy to an entirely new level. One particular scene involving the duo involves a wall and a duet with Snow White- it’s slapstick at it’s best and guaranteed to leave you in stitches (thankfully not needing them but the same can’t be said for the cast- I’ll say no more).
This year, in addition to Andy Ford, the audience went absolutely loopy for Warwick Davis who portrayed lead dwarf Prof. The Harry Potter star was in full gusto on stage, clearly a place he belongs and a place he is clearly fond of, stating that the pantomime is the perfect opportunity to enthrall the younger generations into theatre when they’re so currently consumed by, and theatre competes with, the technologies of today. He couldn’t be more right. This particular show is everything you could possibly ask for in a production and offers way more than any device could; it’s funny, has a whole cast charismatic characters
(whether you believe in good or evil), audience participation that brings out the child in all, choreographed dance sequences, sparkling stages and costumes, new and classic music and of course a live orchestra (who never seem to get enough kudos). Guaranteed you’ll not be the least bit snoozy watching this performance though be sure to take tissues for the very touching and sniffley, happy ever afters.
Playing Snow White was Francesca Lara Gordon, who we were surprised to see has seemingly small acting credits to date, however, we expect great things from this young actress who played Snow White with Disneyesque precision, she’s everything you’d imagine; Kim Ismay as Queen Morgiana is as wicked as they come; Shaun Dalton as Prince Clive of Clifton (naturally) is as talented as he is dashing; Danny Blackner, Pete Bonner, Hayley Burroughs, Peter Burroughs, Annabelle Davis and Dean Watton accompany Warwick Davis as the Seven Dwarfs in this production who add additional humour, character and strength to a story that would be lost without them.
Much like the star on top of the tree or the Christmas pudding after the feast or the bows on the presents, the Bristol Pantomime is what’ll make your Christmas.