Writers: Alan McHugh and Matt Slack
Director: Michael Harrison
If spectacle is what you want in a Christmas production, then look no further than this year’s Hippodrome offering, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Based on the traditional story with the usual panto additions – and one unexpected plot twist – this is a show with something for everyone. Money seems to have been no object when it comes to staging this extravaganza – the sets and costumes have come direct from last year’s production at the London Palladium, there’s more effects than even the Hippodrome panto usually supplies, and the cast doesn’t disappoint either.
Despite there being a host of popular TV names on stage, the biggest cheer of the night comes as panto legend Matt Slack makes his appearance. This is his seventh consecutive year at the Hippodrome, and he is well-known and loved by local audiences – and with good reason. Slack is a master of his trade, with a mixture of slapstick, anarchic humour and general silliness that appeals to young and old alike – and though much of the comedy is aimed more towards the adults in the audience there’s nothing even remotely crude or offensive about it. He always provides good value, and he’s seen as a big-enough draw that he’s been signed up already for year eight next Christmas. Slack has that confidence and ease of performance that hides just how hard he is working – in fact he’s hardly off stage throughout the whole show.
Joining Slack on stage there’s a host of other stars. Joe McElderry is in good voice as The Spirit of the Mirror, with Lesley Joseph returning to the Birmingham panto stage as a not-too-scary Queen Dragonella, who gets dragged more into the fun and mayhem than you’d usually expect from a pantomime villain – and she’s very good at it, too. Faye Brookes makes an endearing and feisty Snow White, a princess with a bit of spirit, and Flawless show us the sort of moves that catapulted them to success in Britain’s Got Talent as the Queen’s Guards.
Andrew Ryan’s Nanny Annie Aspirin is a suitably cheerful and friendly dame – like Slack, Ryan has found his niche in pantomime. This time he has a sidekick, Midlands YouTube star Doreen Tipton as the Lady in Waiting, bringing her usual brand of deadpan wit to proceedings. Finally, and more than holding his own among the more experienced cast around him, is Jac Yarrow, fresh out of drama school as Prince Harry of Harborne. Yarrow has an excellent singing voice and looks entirely at home on the pantomime stage – expect to see more from him in years to come.
This is not a romantic Disneyesque Snow White – the characters have some bite, the comedy is non-stop, the costumes and sets are stunning and the effects more spectacular than ever. The young audience members will love the silliness and slapstick, and the light touch to what can be a very dark story, while the adults will appreciate more of the humour. All in all, it creates an almost overwhelming sensory experience from start to finish. Pick your performance with care – some of them are not cheap – and you are guaranteed a production to remember that will have you laughing pretty much throughout.
Runs until 2 February 2020