Review: Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs

17 Dec 2013 @ 10.02 am
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Rob McVeigh as Prince Valentine, Phil Randall as Sarah Spoilit and Aiden J Harvey as Muddles. Photograph: Grand Opera House
Rob McVeigh as Prince Valentine, Phil Randall as Sarah Spoilit and Aiden J Harvey as Muddles. Photograph: Grand Opera House

Review: Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs
Venue: Grand Opera House, December 16

Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs has everything you might expect. A pretty Snow White. The optimum number of small people. Singing and slapstick, dancing and a dame.

Most of the kids had a whale of a time, hooting with laughter at the pratfalls and silly voices, clapping along with the songs, yelling their “It’s behind yous!” and “Oh no you’re nots!” with ageless Christmas gusto.

And if the kids were happy, so were the mums, dads, grandmas and grandads. Job done.

This is panto assembled like most folks’ Christmas decorations. The script and routines are taken down from the loft each year, dusted off, and arranged in the same positions as last year, and the year before that. You might add the odd new trinket, but nothing that would alarm Great Aunt Maud.

Nevertheless, there are moments during Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs where bits of business, once well loved, have become a bit too well-worn. Sometimes it was less “Heigh Ho!” and more ho-hum.

In a telling slip during the kitchen scene the Huntsman, Marcus Patrick, got the set-up to a gag wrong. “These are Southampton eggs,” he told the audience, before correcting himself. “No they’re not, these are Leeds United eggs – easily beaten!”

Clearly he’d done the same lines in the same show down south. If it were a better joke, you might have forgiven the recycling; or if there was more of an attempt to add spice to the staler stuff with some fresh material. But one Nigella reference was the only concession to originality.

Talented cast

This is not to criticise a talented and energetic cast. For the most part they were busting their baubles to bring sparkle to the stage. Marcus himself was a hugely likeable Huntsman, handsome and very funny.

Aiden J Harvey used all his 40-year showbiz experience to pull the show along and give the audience a good time. He was excellent as Muddles, the life and soul.

His one misstep came with impressions of boxers Chris Eubank and Muhammad Ali, references far too dated to still warrant inclusion, followed by a generic “ah so” Chinaman which felt like it had come straight from his New Faces routine in the Seventies – and should have stayed there.

Malton born Lauren Hood was excellent as Snow White. Boy, that girl can sing, and she was endearingly sweet and never saccharine. Former Emmerdale resident Adele Silva, at 33, made for a young wicked Queen Malevola, but clearly relished every boo and hiss and emitted a cackle as maniacal as a veteran baddie.

Prince Valentine was played with hearty sincerity, iced with fun, by Rob McVeigh, one of the finalists on the BBC’s Any Dream Will Do. Here was a solid catch, the sort of prince who was not only handsome but looked like he’d be handy round the palace.

The dame was played with skill by Phil Randall, who managed to overcome the thin material with a comedic physicality and day-glo costumes.

Similarly the dwarfs, led by Max Laird, were landed with lines which barely prompted a titter from an audience ready to guffaw. They worked their slippers off to make the most of their scenes, but a little more effort and creativity from the producers would have made all the difference.

The set pieces were good: the 12 days of Christmas brought the house down, particularly when Max, going beyond the call of duty, did a comedy trip which sent him flying into the wings on his belly.

The dancers did well to interpret everything from One Direction to Gangnam Style with verve, while the younger ones upped the cute quotient appearing as floppy eared rabbits complete with carrots.

After the singalong – Aiden J Harvey clearly is unfamiliar with this year’s novelty hit What Does The Fox Say – came the obligatory happy ending.

Everyone cheered, and it was all done by 8.45pm (unlike some other York pantos we could mention). Daughter Mia said she enjoyed it, although at ten years old she has seen this all before – several times now.

Please, Snow White producers, make an effort and add some new baubles next year.