Priscilla Presley is the ex-wife, or widow of Elvis, though she does look uncannily like a little sister. And you may have seen her in Dallas, or the Naked Gun movies.
She is, for panto purposes, a Wicked Queen "with a strange American accent" who comes on like a mini-Joan Collins, her spangled dresses slit from the waist, her crown a devil's headpiece, her best moment a down-and-dirty-ish version of "Trouble" with four bare-chested hunks in dark glasses.
And she doesn't mind being booed, even though she is a former Miss Tennessee. The Prince requests an audience. "He can have this one," she spits, "they're rubbish." That got us going all right, though I noticed a distinct diminution in the number of light-up swords and bracelets this year. It must be the recession.
Compared to the Birmingham Hippodrome's spectacular pantomime, say, there is a general sense of every expense being spared here. The stage is just about a-glitter, though, and there is a full complement of dwarfs, even though one of them wanders off.
"We're one short," shouts the Prof – Warwick Davis, game butt of Ricky Gervais' jokes – only to be reminded, "We're all short!" One of them is besotted with the Paralympian swimmer Ellie Simmonds, another talks of fighting off the goalies – picking on someone his own size (not), Manchester City's Joe Hart – when he means ghoulies.
The little people welcome the abandoned Snow White of Lizzie Jay-Hughes – who, confusingly, looks like Priscilla's younger sister – to the Madness song "Our House." After the interval, she's still scrubbing away while the dwarfs lie exhausted all over the place. It's been a hard night.
And when their cook and cleaner is found "dead" after biting the poisoned apple, one of them merely shrugs and says, "Oh well, looks like a takeaway tonight." The children love them, these lewd little people who don't even draw the line at impersonating Susan Boyle singing "I Dreamed a Dream".
There's a handy small band under David Roper, and director Ian Talbot has organised the coming and going efficiently, with a nice blue and silver royal wedding at the end that compensates for the low-tech Mirror on the Wall and the worst joke of the season (which I loved) from the comedian Jarred Christmas, the Queen's henchman.
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