Last year, I called the Towngate Theatre production of Aladdin ‘Possibly the best panto I have ever seen’ and so I went along this year with very high expectations and I wasn’t disappointed.
Simon Fielding’s production of Snow White has everything a great panto should have. A hilarious script (that manages to never crosses the barrier in to awful eye-rolling dad joke territory), a wonderful set, brilliant acting and most importantly a lot of heart.
Echoing what I said in my review last year, the wonderful thing about these productions is that they don’t rely on star casting for it to succeed (although this year does feature a cameo from Rylan Clark-Neal). The majority of the cast return year after year and so do the punters, so there is a real sense of community about it. The younger ensemble members rehearse every week for three months to ensure they are as slick as possible and it really shows as a well crafted production.
Simon Fielding (returning for the twelfth year) is a genius and puts many other pantomimes to shame. As well as producing and staging the show, he plays the adorable Muddles and wins the hearts of all the adults and children in the audience. His energy is contagious and can lift anyone out of a bad mood. Sophie Ladds (returning for the eleventh year) plays the evil Brunhilda Sauerkraut to perfection, managing to be horrible but still likeable as a character. Daniel Stockton returns to the Towngate Theatre for the third year to play dame Nurse Betty and is one of the best dames I have ever seen – camp, fun and gloriously entertaining. Other cast members Lizzie Emery (Snow White), George Arvidson (Prince Yanny of Billericay) and Rhys Whiteside (Hertz Van Rental) all give praise worthy performances and are backed by a strong ensemble of adults and children. Choreography by Aisling Duffy is also top notch!
Highlights of this years show included an incredible bathroom splash scene (where more than a few litres of water were dispensed over poor Muddles) and a hilarious scene sitting on a wall, pushing each other off whilst Snow White sings obliviously.
Now I’ve seen Simon Fielding’s panto production two years in a row, I can safely say I will be back year after year from now on. I can’t wait to see what is put together for next year’s production of Dick Whittington!
Reviewed by West End Wilma
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