Writer: James Shone
Director: Ian Smith
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, is Telford’s pantomime the fairest of them all? It may well be. As panto season commences in theatres across the land, Shropshire’s festive offering of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is wickedly good fun.
We meet the evil Queen first, played by 90s pop star ‘Lolly’, aka Anna Kumble, who is good at being bad. On a mission to be the most beautiful woman in Telford, her royal wickedness will stop at nothing, even if that means exterminating Snow White. Luckily, sweet Snow, played by local talent Chloe Barlow, has some good friends to look out for her, in the shape of Fairy Fortune, played by the sparkling Sophie Walters, marvellous Muddles played by Carl Dutfield and Dame Dolly, played by Ian Smith, back by popular demand in a dual role as the exuberant Dame and show director.
The main cast is completed by a strong leading man in the shape of Eastenders actor Sam Attwater, starring as Prince Thomas of Telford. The seven dwarfs feature later, appearing as puppets mastered by the multi-faceted dance ensemble. They are not the usual crew, as Doc et al have been replaced by Cheeky, Lazy, Blusher and Windy ….
Delivered in the best of pantomime traditional, the story is only loosely based on the classic fairy-tale plot, making room for funny skits, musical numbers, and audience participation. There are topical references and local ribbing, with Matt Hancock, Boris Johnson and Broseley all taking a hit.
The fun set pieces featuring Dame Dolly and Muddles are really excellent, the duo often taking the innuendo as near to the knuckle as possible. The musical performances from Attwater, Barlow and Walters are also very good. The score is largely original compositions performed by a two-piece live band, with a smattering of well-known hits including A Million Dreams from The Greatest Showman and We Are Family, which go down well.
No expense has been spared on the bold and colourful sets and pyrotechnics, and sparkling costumes are impressive. For a small theatre, this production packs a punch on several levels and the result is hugely enjoyable.
From nursery-goers to nannas, there is something here for the whole family. All essential pantomime elements are present – magic, music, silliness, and slapstick, providing a joyful antidote in testing times. The conclusion of this reviewer’s eight-year-old panto companion was “It was really, really good” echoed by the 12-year-old’s verdict of, “I want to see it again.”
Runs Until 2 January 2023