Writer: Si Foster and Ben Engelen
Director: Chantelle Nolan
Reviewer: Robin Winters
Over the past five years the pantomimes at St Helens Theatre Royal has consistently been one of the best in the region and this year’s production of Snow White continues that trend, while it may not be as tight as last years production of Aladdin, it still brings excellent value for money and keeps bringing new and innovate ways of making the pantomime tradition fresh and exciting.
Director Chantelle Nolan has gathered a very strong cast for this year’s panto, in the titular role Lucy Jo Hudson best known for her stint on Coronation Street and Wild at Heart proves to be the perfect princess, with a very sweet and colourful singing voice. St Helens’ resident dame Si Foster goes from the good side to the bad as he generates boos aplenty as the Evil Queen Camilla, Jack Rigby makes a dashing prince charming although arguably looks more princely on the promo pictures than with his Beckham-esque Alice-banded locks. Richard Hazlewood straddles the line brilliantly between good and bad as Herman the Henchman and Johnny Vegas makes a splash albeit recorded as the Magic Mirror.
No production of Snow White would be complete without the inclusion of seven dwarfs, some companies go for children in costumes, others have opted for dancers performing on their knees but The Theatre Royal have gone full-on traditional and brought in a team of professional dwarfs which adds a real air of authenticity to proceedings. Josh Bennett (Grumpy), Sarah Bennett (Prof), James Lusted (Cheeky), Charlotte Lyons (Blusher), Pete Sunter (Sniffly), Lucy Blenkiron (Snoozy) and Danny Blackner (Loopy) help to bring the magic of the tale to life with Lusted’s Cheeky really standing out.
However, the show really belongs to Lewis Devine who is superbly entertaining and provides more on-stage energy than a Duracell bunny on heat, he has the audience eating out of the palms of his hands, to be making his pantomime debut with such a strong and confident performance is breathtaking and one hopes we will see more of him in panto seasons in the future.
This year’s panto is jointly written by Si Foster and Ben Engelen and on the whole it’s a tightly packed panto with plenty of laughs and gags, it must be said that some of the references may be a little too old for a family audience but that’s a little niggle in an otherwise enjoyable script.
Director Nolan ensures that the running time is a tight two hours, which means the audience’s attention never waivers and this year provides us with one of the best Ghost Bench/3D Scene hybrids this reviewer has ever seen – hearing 100s of school children scream as a spider comes shooting towards them is a brilliant spectacle in itself.
With a whole host of dazzling new costumes and engaging choreography from Nazene Danielle Langford St Helen’s has once again found a winning formula for a fantastic festive experience.
Runs until 14th January 2018 | Image: David Munn