SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS: Michael Harrison, Alan McHugh
Runs: 2h 30m, one interval, till 02 02 14
Review: Alexander Ray Edser, 21 12 13
Real theatrical bag of festive goodies – even better besties.
In recent years the Birmingham Hippodrome pantomime has featured spectacular arrays of digital, lighting and 3D effects; this year effects are less to the fore, and the pantomime offers a spectacular array of performing talents. The balance between roles feels different (maybe it’s the story); the result is a fabulously energised production with several people in the driving seat at the same time. A giddy ride, then, but a thrilling one.
There are a number of up-beat numbers (with some excellent singing and dancing from the ensemble) while other numbers are reminiscent of engaging, popular songs from Music Hall. It begins with Mrs Nora Crumble’s opening song about Birmingham Baltis (a beautifully pitched performance from Gary Wilmot) and reaches its climax in the totally inspired, slapstick lunacy of If I Didn’t Work for the Queen – one of the numbers you’d love to see again.
Mrs Crumble’s two sons (both in love – of course – with Snow White) complement each other perfectly; Matt Slack (Oddjob) exuding childlike naiveté, and Paul Zerdin (Muddles) a marvellous ventriloquist, accompanied therefore, by Sam.
Gok Wan makes the improbably role of Man in the Mirror probable; he weaves his unique style and talents into the story with charm and aplomb. Stephanie Beachum revels in the boos and hisses as Queen Sadista; she looks stunning in her truly ‘wicked queen’ crown.
What pantomime would be complete without romanic interest? Danielle Hope and John Partridge carry off the roles and make a delightful couple. A mention must be made of the seven dwarfs themselves; the make a terrific team. Lest there should be an impression that there is a lack of spectacle . . . there isn’t; and there’s an impressive frightening flying dragon, much the favourite, it would seem, of all audience members. (Perhaps we need to update the old rule to ‘Never act with children, dogs, and dragons.)
Sometimes credited as ‘the biggest pantomime in the world’ the Hippodrome/Qdos annual show is always a treat; this year, though, it seems better than ever.
The Man in the Mirror: Gok Wan
Prince John: John Partridge
Snow White: Daniele Hope
Mrs Nora Crumble: Gary Wilmot
Oddjob: Matt Slack
Muddles: Paul Zerdin
Queen Sadista: Stephanie Beachum
The Seven Dwarfs: Matt Bateman, Tom Brandon, Jon-Scott Clark, Ewan Goddard, Daniel HOpe, Conleth Kane. Mark Laverty
Ensemble: Chloe Ames, Calum Aylott, James Bennett, Michael Burr, Kage Douglas, Stephanie Elstob, Diana Girbau, Charlotte Scally, Luke Swattridge, Marie Walker
Producer / Director: Michael Harrison
Choreography: Karen Bruce
Associate Director: Tom O’Connell
Musical Supervisor: Gary Hind
Musical Director: Robert Willis
Lighting Designer: Ben Cracknell
Set Designer: Jan Westbrook