It's 10am on a freezy-frozy morning, but inside the Palace the Wicked Queen has reached boiling point: she begrudges Snow White everything – even her birthday, so she's hijacked the date and the party for herself.
From the front row of the stalls to the back seats in the circle, comes a roar of full-throated rage, ear-shattering with the mega-decibels that only young lungs can achieve.
No wonder Queen Evilyn (Ellie Chidzey) smiles out at us. Her glam brand of slinky malice is hardly into its stride and already the right, hostile reaction is in place. And when Jill Nadin's bright-as-a-button Snow White arrives, looking as if she'd stepped out of the Disney animation, you sense that yet again this venue has put together a crowd-pleasing family panto.
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So maybe the littlest kids can't pick up on the rapid banter and slick word-play that Liam Dolan – writer/director and a live-wire Jimmy the Jester – bandies about with the Dame (Craig Glover). But their parents will certainly appreciate the jokes about hard times and the clever daftness of the comedy riffs on magazine titles. As for the tinies – well, there's messy slapstick to keep them amused, a magic mirror with a popular children's presenter (Justin Fletcher, albeit pre-recorded) to tell the Queen home truths, and a really engaging group of dwarfs, played by children with convincing masks and the dialogue on tape.
It's not easy to keep such a well-known story fresh and vivid, but the Palace team succeed.