I have never been to Ipswich, let alone the New Wolsey Theatre, but in the spirit of the times I am pleased to get a chance to review their legendary rock ‘n’ roll pantomime, this year’s being The Snow Queen.
With the scene set by dames past getting us at home in the mood, the atmosphere builds up to showtime perfectly, making us at home feeling as welcome as the small audience watching this show unfolding live on stage.
Utilising classic songs such as Happy Together, Ring of Fire, If I Had a Hammer and more, this is a mix of comedy – the Dame, Kay’s mother, pursues shy blacksmith Sven, Gerda’s father – and chilling fantasy as young Kay is spirited away by the Snow Queen and her hissable henchman, Icicle.
More complex scenes unfold on screen or as overlays to the main action, which works well, while a silly wordplay routine involving fish gives the Dame time to shine. The music is top class from the actor-musicians, with laugh-out-loud versions of familiar tunes as well as perfectly rendered versions of the likes of Frozen.
The plot of The Snow Queen as we know it from the fairytale fits in with the panto tropes (I saw a more classic version of the story over at the Park Theatre in Finsbury Park last year), giving the right balance of shivers and laughs. There is even a nod to the famed football rivalry between Ipswich and the Snow Queen’s domain of Norwich!
A cast of five show their versatility with three doubling up roles: James Haggie is a peevish Icicle and a sweet simple Simon (with great vocals); Adam Langstaff is both the pensive Sven and the young lovebird Kay; and Natasha Lewis is both chirpy Primrose and the magnificent Snow Queen. Steve Simmonds is a memorable and lively Dame “bargain bucket” Sigrid Smorgasboard, while Lucy Wells is as sweet as pie as the determined Gerda.
Reimagined, adapted and directed by Peter Rowe to include live action, animation, a couple of puppets, pre-recorded film, audience interaction and a doorstep moment for one lucky household in Ipswich, this Snow Queen is funny, innovative, and satisfying.
To book to watch The Snow Queen Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto, visit the New Wolsey website. Performances, both live (currently sold out) and livestreamed, run until Christmas Eve. Tickets are £25. All performances have optional captions and a relaxed performance is also available to watch from home.
Image credit: Mike Kwasniak
LouReviews received complimentary access to review The Snow Queen Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto.