Review by Rosie Holmes
New Wimbledon Theatre’s annual pantomime returns for the 2022 festive season and this year it’s the turn of Snow White. A mix of experienced West End performers and TV personalities meant the show was full of comedy capers, fabulous dance routines and some gorgeous vocals. Wimbledon’s offering to this year’s festive season is one not to miss.
The plot revolves around Snow White and her evil stepmother, Queen Lucretia, whose greatest desire is to be the fairest in the land and to marry Prince Lee of Lambeth. After consulting her magic mirror and discovering her step daughter Snow White has usurped her place as fairest in the land, Lucretia sets out to kill Snow White with a poisoned apple. Fearing for her safety, Snow White flees to the forbidden forest where she meets the Magnificent Seven (the renamed Seven Dwarfs) who take her in.
Let’s be honest though, you don’t visit a pantomime for the plot. The entertainment in this show is provided by the chaotic comedy sketches and the fabulously camp song and dance numbers. This year Dick and Dom of CBBC’S ‘In da Bungalow’ fame, star as Court Jesters. Frankly, the casting of Dick and Dom meant the jokes wrote themselves, some of the jokes appealing to the younger audience members and the smuttier lines causing sniggers amongst the more mature audience members. Dick and Dom played the roles of the fools with plenty of energy, a particularly funny sketch saw their intelligence being tested, as they answered ‘dump her’ to the question ‘what would you do if a bird pooed in your car?’ I found myself grinning more than I thought I would as they appeared on stage shouting ‘bogies’ a throwback to my childhood weekends watching them on tv on a Saturday morning.
Ruthie Henshall took on the role of villain Lucretia, Snow White’s Stepmother. Her portrayal of the villain was more camp than scary, but her song and dance numbers were wonderful to watch, As would be expected from such a west end veteran, her rendition of ‘I put a Spell on you’ wouldn’t have been out of place in a West End musical. Alongside Ruthie Henshall was Hannah Lowther as Snow White. Lowther provided a sweet interpretation as Snow White, her talent shone in the dance numbers, particularly appealing to the tween and teens in the audience with some subtle Tik Tok references within the routines.
No stranger to Panto, Matthew Kelly donned a series of outlandish outfits to channel his best panto Dame. If you have seen a Panto before, you will immediately recognise the formula - one element is the increasingly ridiculous outfits worn by the Panto Dame in each scene. Favourites for me included the Bagpuss outfit and plant pot outfit. Matthew Kelly’s Panto Dame alongside John Archer’s character Oddjob are for me what panto is about - absolute silliness that makes you groan as much as it makes you laugh. John Archer was fabulously funny, delivering silly songs on his ukulele as well as managing the unknown nature of audience interaction incredibly well. With many comic characters however, it is perhaps that there are too many of them to allow any of them to truly shine. Oddjob’s comic magic tricks and comedic songs as well as Dick and Dom’s extensive stage time mean that despite his outlandish costumes and panto dame veteran status Matthew Kelly’s Nurse Nellie fades slightly into the background.
Lee Mead was the starring man, performing as Snow White’s Prince Lee of Lambeth. Proving himself a dashing Prince, one highlight for all the musical fans in the audience was his performance of ‘Any Dream Will Do’ - a nod to his starring role in Joseph and The Technicolour Dreamcoat after winning the TV reality show Any Dream Will Do in 2007 and prompting a sing along. Another vocal standout of the Panto belonged to Brenda Edwards as the fairy of pantoland. Delivering some of the best vocals I have seen in any pantomime particularly in her duet with Hannah Lowther, which was something incredible to watch.
Over the years the New Wimbledon Theatre’s Pantomime has produced some pretty spectacular set pieces and effects; including 3D screens and flying vehicles. It feels a lot more toned down this year, but the fairy-tale set, the charming home of the Magnificent Seven and the stunning costumes still provide a dazzling effect and one that will certainly appeal to children. The most magical moment of the show comes at the end of act one when the audience is covered in a flurry of snow.
Whilst pantomime will never be everybody’s cup of tea, this funny, camp and colourful show is the perfect show to take all the family to this Christmas. With something for everyone - whether it’s smutty jokes, funny one liners, gorgeous vocals or family friendly fart jokes (and there are a lot of them) this is a fabulous family pantomime which will have you booing and cheering throughout. Is Snow White at New Wimbledon Theatre the fairest pantomime of them all? I think so!
Snow White and the Seven Drwafs plays at New Wimbledon Theatre until 31st December. Tickets available here
Photos by Craig Sugden