Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs have given thousands of Milton Keynes families an extra glow to their Christmas.
The panto reviews have been uniform in their positivity, and ticket sales have been brisk – ithas proven the most successful seasonal show at MK Theatre for a number of years.
Warwick Davis, Hollywood star, small-screen familiar, all-round personable figure is at the helm of this show, on stage and off – as star and director.
“It is a tremendous amount more work than just being in it, you live and breathe the show for a few weeks before, and during rehearsals that’s all you do 24 hours a day. It consumes you,” Warwick tells me, relaxing in his dressing room fresh from another sensational performance.
“I often joke there should be a credit in the programme for my soul, as a bit of it is in the show!
“You are like the general leading an army into battle, and you’ve got to have the answers to everything – from all departments.
But Warwick loves the process, pressure and all.
“There is a lot of pressure, because it’s a very big show to put on in a fairly short space of time… it’s about communication and everybody being aware of what they need to achieve, what their goals are, and to fulfill them.
“But it’s a lovely process as well, rehearsals are one of my favourite times, as an actor certainly. That collaborative, creative process – you come up with so much and have those eureka moments where you suddenly have an idea for something.
“It’s lovely for me to think the things that people are watching and enjoying were just a sudden spark of inspiration that I had.”
This show is a real family affair for Warwick too, daughter Annabelle, who joins her father for this chat – and Warwick’s father-in-law also star.
Presumably, that means Annabelle can’t moan about the boss?
“She moans more, the others daren’t!” Warwick says, sharing a smile with his daughter.
“She just gets me chewing her ear off on the way home…because once rehearsals finished it didn’t really finish, I would always be working on stuff after that, until the next morning again.”
Annabelle shares the same hard work ethic as her father, and is currently combining her return to MK Theatre (she made her stage debut in Snow White here eight years ago) with studying for A-levels.
“I love it, it’s amazing,” she says of her stage time. “On the first night there was a little nervousness because we’d never had an audience before, but you get absorbed in it, and it’s really fun.”
The curtain rose on Snow White on December 6.
With the Christmas pud eaten, crackers pulled and Crimbo wrapping paper now nestled in with the recycling, everyone is focusing on New Year’s Eve shenanigans.
But for Warwick and his creatively classy cast, which also includes Jennifer Ellison and Kev Orkian, the Citizen-backed panto train doesn’t stop until January 12.
In January the show will still feel as fresh as it did on opening night though: “It has to,” Warwick says, resolutely.
“You just have to glance at the audience – the kids and the adults too, so excited to be here, and you think those people have perhaps saved up quite a large part of their wages to come and see the show, and so you do that show for that person.
“You’ve got to personalize your performance and that keeps you fresh and on it every night.
“Doing a show day after day, week after week could become a little bit repetitive, but if you just remember this is that person’s special night, it drives you through.
“You can’t give anything less than 110% and the rest of the cast are exactly the same. “I don’t have to remind them, they just get out there and deliver.
“That’s the mark of a performer – you can’t help but do anything less than your very best.”
To book tickets for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs visit www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes or call 0844 871 7652.