AFTER three months of rehearsals, Portland's annual panto is ready to roll.

"All we need now is an audience," said director Janet Botterill, who has been whipping cast members of Snow White into shape since September.

"It has been great fun putting the show together and now we are ready to show it to people.

"There are still a few edges that could be tidied up I think, but I prefer pantos to be like that instead of over-rehearsed."

The panto, which was written by Janet and Andy Straw, is the usual Christmastime mix of fairytale fun and locally-based laughs.

It stars Ellie Martin as Snow White with Elfrida Strom as the evil stepmother, Anita Roberts as her mirror, Heidi Masters as the handsome prince, Jill Prynn as Fairy Snow and Graham Masters and Jan Melton as the two woodcutters.

Mark Sampson plays Cookie the Dame who, with a flamboyant collection of wigs and costume changes, helps Snow White look after the dwarves.

Janet first became a panto fan as a child in Watford, where she was taken to see the annual Christmas shows staged at the local theatre by Jimmy Perry, who went on to write hit BBC comedies such as Dad's Army, It Ain't Half Hot Mum and Hi de Hi.

"As it is for many children, panto was my first introduction to live theatre and I adored it," remembers Jan. "And I still do.

"When I was at college I learned all about the Harlequinade, the commedia dell'arte with Harlequin and Columbine that has become the pantos we know today. It really is the theatre of the people, very approachable and accessible and everyone can enjoy it.

"But it also has quite strict rules, such as stage left and stage right. The baddies always come in stage left, or sinister' and the good characters enter stage right, or dexter'.

"That's where we get the word sinister' from today - there is so much you can learn from the theatre."

Royal Manor Theatre's Snow White is definitely a play for all people. As well as many RMT regulars, the show also stars several members of The Playmakers, the theatre's young performers.

Heidi Masters as the prince and David Balston as her right-hand man are both Playmakers, as are the dwarves.

"They are doing absolutely brilliantly and I'm sure they will be fantastic on the night," said Jan. "Mind you, I've told them that if they stand on stage with their arms crossed in any of the performances I'll chop their heads off!"

You can see Royal manor Theatre's Snow White and the Seven Dwarves at the Royal Manor Theatre, Fortuneswell, Portland from Monday to Saturday, December 4 to 9. Performances are at 7.30pm and tickets, costing £8 plus concessions, are available from Danny's in Fortuneswell, RT Cards in Easton, from the box office on 01305 860792 and on line at