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Saturday, 24 December 2022

REVIEW: Snow White at The Old Savoy

The Old Savoy is a delightful Art Deco venue independently owned and deserves the support of its local community in Northampton. For this year’s Pantomime that support is secured by the inclusion of four teams of Junior Ensemble who must surely bring in huge friends and family audiences to see them. What is more is that this Junior Ensemble made the visit worthwhile as they are wonderful throughout. The four teams consist of seven dancers, six gymnasts and seven as the non-discriminatory modern interpretation of Disney’s Seven Dwarfs. Indeed, although they do project an image of Snow White from that cartoon over the proscenium at the start, this version could not be further from that famous film in its style.

The Super Seven are Diddy, Sussy, Sassy, Freaky, Windy, Wokey and the Guvnor but it is Wokey that keeps popping up to keep the show modern and on track. Her clever and very clearly enunciated interruptions seem to both highlight current politically correct statements while at the same time gently poking fun at them, keeping both sides of the debate satisfied! She explains that they “don’t believe that people should be given labels or named after physical attributes”, although Windy regularly reminds us of why she is so named. She says their names are “only acceptable because we say so”. When the Prince finally arrives to awaken the sleeping Snow White Wokey steps forward to stop him giving her a “non-consensual kiss” but then follows up when she is awake with a “fill your boots son”. 

Sunday, 26 December 2021

REVIEW: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Bristol Hippodrome

As the Welsh Government heartbreakingly and seemingly prematurely shut Welsh Theatres after Christmas due to the perceived risk of the Omicron variant of Delta, less than 30 minutes drive away I was able to join a packed house at the lovely Bristol Hippodrome for a wonderful fun Snow White. Having been required to show my triple jabbed Covid Pass to enter and wearing a mask it was otherwise like the good old days of families enjoying a Christmas Treat. Why can’t they publish the evidence of how many people in the last month have caught Covid after a booster jab and wearing a mask at a Theatre and ended up feeling ill enough for hospital admission? It is time to stop playing politics and start giving us the data in enough detail so we can make up our own minds.

Those who decide that going to the Theatre is safer than going to the shops for your Christmas shopping are in for a treat with this excellent version of Snow White with beautiful costumes, stellar performances, and plenty of laughs together as a family. It is broadly the same script as the Swansea Grand Theatre, but Andy Ford, Lesley Joseph and Judge Rob Rinder give a master class in the execution of tried and tested routines from start to finish, and the audience roared their approval.

The Seven Dwarfs are again played by men on their knees and open the show in a strong clear scene setter but really burst into life when they return riding a lovely selection of woodland animals. This frees them up to move more easily and brings more humour and movement to the scene and when joined by Andy Ford riding an invisible Giraffe makes for a madcap amusing meeting with Snow White. 

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. 

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

REVIEW: Snow White by Anton Benson Productions (Online)

Pantomime has always been a local event with families supporting their local venue each year with familiar actors returning and playing different characters “this year”. The Pandemic has temporarily changed this relationship with audiences, and it is fascinating to see how producers brave enough to put their shows online in streamed shows have adapted to the new environment. It also means it is more competitive and audiences at home can select from a range of shows and compare them without travelling. Anton Benson is an experienced producer and following his Christmas production of Once upon a Pantomime with a host of star names crammed into the show, he has returned at Easter with a simpler live stream of Snow White captured on the stage and largely directed as if the audience is present in the auditorium. The result at times with inconsistent sound and poorly illuminated areas of the stage feels a bit like watching a technical rehearsal where the hard-working cast miss the ability to feed off the audience reaction. The added audience applause and cheers sound effect simply emphasise what is missing.

Basil Brush as the Henchman is the standout star of the show, benefiting from close-ups not possible in a live show which sometimes leave the large box from which he appears out of shot. His amiable personality and silly puns were developed on TV and easily translate into the streamed medium in a way not possible when he is wheeled on and off in a live show. The tongue twister recipe sketch is neatly and effectively done.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

REVIEW: Snow White at the London Palladium

The London Palladium for the third year running stages a spectacular Christmas variety show with the huge cast of performers linking their acts loosely with a pantomime story, Snow White, this year. It is an expensive ticket but a wonderful cast, elaborate and colourful costumes and the well lit front portal beautifully frames the production. It is a remarkable celebration of the venue and the performers who have trod the boards over the years. The show opens with a stage full of the twenty strong Ensemble singing "At the Palladium" to the tune of the Lambeth Walk with Danielle Hope as Snow White and Act 2 opens with "Here at the Palace" with dancers led by the amazing Charlie Stemp as Prince Harry. Gary Wilmot returns as the Dame, Mrs Nora Crumble and updates last year's "Tube show" into an extraordinary list of all the stars that have played the Palladium. 

As with Sunday Night at the London Palladium (1950's and 1960's) , Live from the Palladium (1980's ) and in the heyday of its pantomimes (1948 to 1987) the show bill is packed with big names who each get their chance to do their turn. Top of the Bill is Julian Clary as The Man in the Mirror with an astonishing ever more elaborate set of costumes that restrict his movement but as in previous years he delivers his unique brand of adult comedy. Opposite him this year is another star making her pantomime debut, Dawn French as Queen Dragonella who although she calls for boos is too well loved to be seen as evil, and so plays the part as herself having a laugh. 

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

What is closing in the West End in January?

Kinky Boots | Final Performance on the 12th January 

After almost 3 and a half years in London's West End, Kinky Boots closes its doors at the Adelphi Theatre on the 12th January to make way for the Broadway transfer of Waitress. But do not fear, Kinky Boots is currently strutting around the UK on tour so its not saying goodbye just yet! 

Bat Out of Hell | Final Performance on the 5th January 

After runs at the Manchester Opera House, the London Coliseum, Toronto and finally the West Ends Dominion Theatre, Bat Out of Hell will rock out for the last time on the 5th January. To make way for what I hear you ask? Well you'll have to wait and see. 

The Inheritance | Final Performance on the 19th January 

Playing a sold out run at the Young Vic earlier this year, this play has won the hearts of the theatre going public and has been monumental for gay writing. The closure of this play is to make room for the production of All About Eve before the much waited Broadway transfer of Dear Evan Hanson. 

Chicago | Final Performance on the 5th January 

Making this the fourth West End venue the musical has played (After the Adelphi, the Cambridge and the Garrick) we say goodbye to the musical again on the 5th January at the Phoenix Theatre to make way for the Broadway transfer of Come From Away. 

Dreamgirls | Final Performance on the 12th January 

After over two years in the West End, the Dreamgirls will be saying goodbye on the 12th January. There will be a soul spaced hole in the West End after its closure but will be replaced by the long over due production of 9 to 5. Turns out, Dreamgirls do leave you! 

42nd Street | Final Performance on the 5th January 

Just shy of two full years in one of the West Ends biggest houses, this production of 42nd Street will close on the 5th January to make way for some much needed refurbishment in the Theatre. What will replace it? Well, we here it might get a little colder in there! Lets hope they install some central heating. 

Snow White | Final Performance on the 13th January 

Now this show hasn't even opened yet, but we are so pumped to get into the Christmas mood so had to include this! Opening on the 12th December with a star cast, this show closes almost exactly a month later on the 13th January at the London Palladium. 


Monday, 11 December 2017

PANTOMIME REVIEW: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

The 1937 Disney film defined this title and sometimes it feels awkward to squeeze it into the Pantomime format but when all the elements come together it is a title that will delight Christmas audiences. This UK Production show written by Andrew Ryan, with a strong ensemble cast, all the essential Pantomime business and some of the original Disney tunes certainly does this and credit must go to the whole team under the direction of Chris Nelson. Rarely even in pantomime do you hear an audience this engaged in a production, even the theatre foyer is dressed to get them in the mood before the start. 

The show is driven with loads of energy by Andy Collins as Muddles (7th season at Waterside) and La Voix as nurse (another experienced pantomime Dame). They work very well together from their first entrances, Muddles riding a my little pony and Nurse singing Fame and in a gag filled Mastermind parody. The running gag of the missing pots and pans provides further comic moments leading to a show stopping "Twelve days of Christmas", one of the best you will see, with amazing audience involvement and even Company Stage Manager, Robb Mookhoek joining the fun in the auditorium with a super soaker.
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