Writer: Anton Benson
Director: Ryan Greaves
Reviewer: John Roberts
If you are looking for a star-studded spectacular pantomime to take your family to this Christmas then you may have opted to purchase tickets for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Northwich Memorial Court – however, even Edwina Curry as The Wicked Queen, Celebrity Big Brother runner-up Austin Armacost as Prince Charming, and former Corrie star Bruce Jones as Herman the Henchman can’t save this rotten apple from stinking.
Having been 15 minutes late with no apology or reason, the restless crowd finally gets the curtain up – but that doesn’t stop headliner Edwina Curry unprofessionally sticking her head out of the curtain and waving to the audience completely out of character and in full costume. One could perhaps forgive this if it was a one-off – sadly it isn’t and she can’t help herself doing it throughout the performance.
It’s probably easier to get the very small amount of positives about this production out of the way first – the dancers and youngsters who all come from a local performing arts school, do an incredible job of keeping things professional (something this cast could learn from) sadly no programme was available and so I can’t name the school, but credit to each and every one of them for keeping calm among the storm. Secondly producer and writer Anton Benson’s script is actually rather witty, it’s just a shame that director Ryan Greaves, who also plays Wally and the rest of the cast, don’t give it the justice or respect that it deserves.
Technical issues mar this production from the off, with microphones sounding tinny and full of reverb, to music and sound effects being so loud that the only thing you leave the theatre with is a banging headache. It must be noted that the magic mirror doesn’t look so magical when you can see the Windows desktop being projected onto it.
As for the cast… in the words of Steps, some things are “better best forgotten”. Currie does try her best and she is clearly giving it her all, but that “all” is weak and uninspiring. Likewise, Armacost’s prince is lacklustre and reveals very little talent. Bruce Jones shows some skill in the form and his Monster Mash is a delight, but he has been hampered with a bizarre Quasimodo character trait that does nothing for the rôle or the performer.
Keeley Fitzgerald gives us a rather annoying chav Pixie, while Dame Winnie, played by Steve Moorewood, lacks a real connection with his audience. Ryan Greaves should have perhaps taken more time off stage as a director than on stage as Wally, who gets more frustrated with a lack of audience response as the evening goes on. Libby Gore is strong as Snow White and really shows promise, but with very little actual stage time – it feels like Snow White is a sub-plot to her own pantomime here.
A pantomime of Snow White using children in skin costumes and over amplified backing tracks for the vocals is never going to compare with using real actors in the rôle, but it’s hard to suspend your disbelief when more than half of the dwarfs are taller than your heroine.
As Christmas shows go, this production ranks in the top three worst pantomimes this reviewer has every watched. When a show lacks any creativity, care and passion, and where the cast is becoming more interested in their own on-stage antics than that of the audience’s enjoyment, you know things are woefully wrong.
Runs until 2 January 2016 | Image: Contributed