Writer: Eric Potts
Director: Carôle Todd
Reviewer: T. L. Wiswell
Of all of the trends to take hold in panto, the latest bad one rearing its head might be the presentation of an ad before the start of the show, as happened in Richmond Theatreon Thursdaynight before the start of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Is this a habit creeping in from the movies? It is rude to take advantage of a trapped audience this way and hopefully the ad preceding the Richmond Theatre’s panto will not become commonplace in theatres across the UK. But on to more pleasant things.
After the mixed bag of celebrity castings ATG has delivered for their big budget pantos, a winner has emerged: Jerry Hall. She is a natural as the Wicked Queen of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, with gorgeous legs, high cheekbones, long blonde hair.. and a feeling of utter artificiality in her appearance. She seems to be a construct of magic rather than having the natural bloom of… well, Snow White (Aimie Atkinson). But she’s very much what you want in a Panto baddie, with a rich voice, a genuine swagger, and a confident line delivery that makes it easy enough to forgive the fact that she’s not performing the singing live. What a contrast with Priscilla Presley, who was in this exact version of Snow White two Christmas seasons ago! Where Presley wanted to be loved, Hall loves to be wanted… because it gives her power. Hall is also comfortable in the Anglicized dialogue: though she may be unsure as to what a chav is exactly, she didn’t struggle to say Chiswick and was certainly aware of what a football club is. Hall also had a lot of good jokes about her life (there’s a lot of tabloid gossip to cover) and seemed to enjoy herself – making her all the more fun to boo. And she rocked her slit-to-the-hip glittery gowns.
Unfortunately, if you’ve seen the previous outing of this Snow White, there isn’t a lot new here, as most of the songs are recycled (although Pharrell William’s Happy makes an obligatory appearance). But it was a very good show, and with the addition of a sparkling hot Wicked Witch, it’s now a nearly perfect panto with all cylinders firing, including some very on-topic jokes (the one about wasting time playing Candy Crush was especially funny) and first rate costumes and sets. It’s impossible to not enjoy the scenes with the dwarfs, who aren’t just a pack of comedians (their slating of Britain’s Got Talent is still hilarious) but represent a solid swathe of acting talent I feel honoured to see on stage at the same time. The highlight of the evening is their arrival at their cottage to a medley of Madness songs (Welcome to the House of Fun and Our House) that just makes you giggle all the way to your toes as Snowy and animal-headed supernumeraries caper around the set.
For comic relief, this show has both Muddles (Chris Jarvis), the court jester who’s crush on Snow White is, for once, not cringe worthy, and Herman the Henchman (Nicholas Colicos), who somehow completely fails to kill either his princess or her suitor but isn’t punished for it. As for the romance between Snow White and the Prince of Lombardy (Shaun Dalton) – well, that’s not really what panto is about, right? And with a big star like Phil Holden (as The Prof) on stage at the same time… it’s clear where the heart and soul of this show is. Snow White is a lovely, sparkly Christmas treat that knows exactly what it ought to do and then does it, making everybody laugh and never getting too scary. And if young Paddy Holden (as Blusher, the dwarf who saves the day) doesn’t melt your heart, well, it’s just possible you may have taken a bite of one of those special apples the Queen was handing out in Act Two – best find yourself a prince soon.
Runs untilJanuary 11, 2015