Thursday, 9 December 2021

REVIEW: Snow White and Seven Dwarfs at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking

Pantomime is back in Woking with a bang in an excellent version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with a strong cast, a lively ensemble of eight and some great comic pantomime business in a bright colourful funny production that was a delight to watch. They packed a lot into the two-hour running time and the Principals worked extremely well together.

Gok Wan has developed a confident stage presence as the Man in the Mirror from his first entrance flown in on that mirror. He struts across the forestage engaging the audience with charm and wit and becomes a very good foil for Aaron James as Muddles whose comedy routines were delivered with great timing. Gok feeds Aaron the lines for an excellent music clips routine which is as good as you will see this Christmas and then joins him for the classic ghost’s bench scene and the traditional 12 days of Christmas. James also delivers a fresh take on the shopping trolley full of props to tell a witty story that was a show highlight and delivers a good monologue of A to Z of impressions. 

There were just enough COVID jokes to be funny without overdoing it with Gok appropriately accusing the Queen of “losing her sense of taste …in costume”. Harriet Thorpe makes a very good Queen Lucretia, a sassy cougar seeking the reassurance of the Man in the Mirror and chasing the reluctant Prince Harry, Benjamin Purkiss. Gok and Thorpe execute the now overdone “Suzy Shaw sits and shines” routine with James chasing across the stage between them to good effect with plenty of rehearsed and unrehearsed mistakes. Lucretia also gets two very good scenes flying low over the audience on a pterodactyl at end of Act 1 on another wonderful Twins FX effect and a slick transformation routine into the old lady in Act 2.

Rebekah Lowings plays Snow White as a very modern lady with a sweet voice leaving behind the memory of the cutesy Disney version and matching up well to the Prince. The Seven Dwarfs are played by seven young actors on their knees which creates a good comic effect but limits their movement so they can’t actually enter the wonderful Dwarfs woodland cottage at all! 

The ensemble of eight are given some excellent dance routines in support of the singers with choreography by Paul Domaine and a wide range of styles making the most of the wide stage.

Director Michael Gyngell keeps the pace steady allowing time for the comedy routines to be delivered seamlessly into Alan McHugh’s formulaic storytelling script. My only criticism is the sound balance perhaps because I was sat stage right side of the auditorium or was not familiar enough with the song choices, the music was too loud for the singers at times, and we could not catch all the words.

This is a top-class show with all the elements you expect in a well-balanced family pantomime, led from the front by Gok Wan but with first-class support from the rest of the Principles and Ensemble. A most enjoyable return to the live theatre enjoyed by a full house.

Review by Nick Wayne 

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: Stalls, Row K | Price of ticket: £31.50
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