Writer: Andrew Ryan
Director: Andrew Margerison
Reviewer: Alisha McCracken
UK Productions have been producing the most lavish pantomime on the Wirral for the past decade. This year’s production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs doesn’t quite land as well as it should and that’s not down to the hard-working cast but mainly down to a mediocre script by Andrew Ryan that struggles to find a real grasp on handling the tale.
Panto gags come and go but it takes almost 90minutes before we get to the darker elements of the story and the following scenes, seem to take place so quickly that it’s almost a blink and you miss it scenario. As quick as Snow White has taken a bite out of the poisoned apple she is kissed and woken up. There appears to be no real danger to her situation and no real journey or stakes for her prince to fight to gain the hand of his “true love”.
As Snow White, Naomi Gisby gives everything to the role, she sings well and plays just on the right side of sweetness. Luke Walsh as the Prince blends perfectly with Gisby, there is real chemistry between the two performers which is always good to see. Philip Meeks as Nurse Dolly brings plenty of bright frocks and quick quips to entertain both adult and child audiences but sadly is left with very little in terms of the script to find a real home in the tale which is in itself a crying shame as Meeks is one of the country’s finest dames and it pitifully underused here. Joining Meeks as Muddles is Sean Jones who was last seen at the venue playing Mickey in Blood Brothers. He has bags of energy and never stops running around the stage, his jokes both funny and a little close to the edge provide plenty of laughs and shocked in-breaths. He works brilliantly with Meeks and the pair tie together in a perfect Panto double act.
Support comes from the actors playing the Seven Dwarfs (Danny Blackner, Chris Chapman, Kieron Dumont, Aaron Haworth, Emma Jones, Trevor Jones, Fatemeh Sarabani) who all gain instant support from the audience when they make their first entrance. Dumont (Twitcher) joins in all the fun including a splendid rendition of Twelve Days of Christmas. Trevor Jones (Grouchy) and Danny Blackner (Soppy) also give plenty of support throughout.
It’s the performance of Claire Sweeney that steals the show, not only looking sexy and glamorous in her sequined figure-hugging green and purple dress but she wows with sensational vocals and plays up to the villainous role with panache. Her scenes especially the musical numbers look and feel the tightest and not only showcases Lee Lomas’ Choreography (which feels a little simplistic and repetitive) in its best light but also provides Jimmi Richardson plenty of opportunity to go all out with the lighting design.
While Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs isn’t the most successful pantomime at the venue, it does provide a strong ensemble company with some seriously strong leads who can all sing and dance (a rarity to see in pantomime) and plenty of laughs. This is a gentle if not completely stirring start to the Christmas festivities.
Runs until 5 Jan 2020 | Image: Brian Roberts