Panto: Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs (New Wimbledon Theatre)

Who: Written by Alan McHugh, directed by Jonathan Kiley. Costumes by Mike Coltman, choreography by Paul Robinson.

Where and when: New Wimbledon Theatre, to 31 Dec. Tickets here.

Cast: Ruthie Henshall, Matthew Kelly, Lee Mead, Hannah Lowther, John Archer, Brenda Edwards, Dick and Dom – plus Jonny Weston, Lucas Angelo Ward, Joshua Clemetson, Will Keeler, Jack Malin, Chris Otim & Jacob Smith.

Basic plot: Snow White is reaching 21 and will become the fairest in the land. The Queen and wicked stepmother seeks to remove her and marry the Prince who loves her.

Poster image for Snow White

Characters and performances: Snow White (sweet Lowther), Prince Lee of Lambeth (Mead camping it up), Queen Lucrezia (Henshall’s first panto, and she’s a great bad girl), Spirit of Pantomime (Edwards, a good fairy).

Dick and Dom, Nellie Nightnurse (Kelly on form, but what’s he got against Bagpuss?), Oddjob (Archer adding comic magic to the mix) – and the Magnificent Seven (lively and energetic dwarfs, but not with the usual names so we have Smiley, Silly, Snoozy etc).

Production photo by Snow White

Audience interaction: Very good from the comic elements, but it took a while for tge Queen to warm up and react to well-placed boos. One routine involving a child and magic worked well. Dick and Dom’s “bogeys” fairly enthusiastic.

Atmosphere: Not enough children around me yo judge their enjoyment, but enthusiastic shout-outs throughout. A similar vibe to the Palladium pantos, with accomplished presentation and slightly off-colour jokes to please the adults without puzzling the kids.

Music: Uses all the big numbers from the 1937 animated musical from Disney, plus others, including a surprise or two. Perhaps too many songs for little ones, but they are well-performed by all.

Production photo by Snow White

Technical: Excellent use of lighting, illusions and set changes. Beware the falling snow if you are in the high number seats of front stalls, and the water gun in the low numbers!

Cuteness factor: Forest animals of the squirrel and fox type.

Regional/contemporary relevance: Wombles are mentioned, and the Queen has a song about fixing the annual grand slam at the tennis club. Nothing overtly political other than a mention of rising energy bills.

Final verdict: **** Very slick, part panto, part musical theatre, part variety show, part children’s party. Solid entertainment for young and old.

Reuses some well-worn routines (the 12 Days of Christmas, “The Three Bells”, miming to bits from records to craft a tale).

A lively and gifted eight person ensemble keep the dance routines fresh, and there is a nicely done twist in the tale and a Gollumesque mirror on the wall.

Image credit: Craig Sugden