Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs- Sutton Arts Theatre Company, Sutton Coldfield

snow-white

*****

Snow White is one of the better pantomime stories. The versatile Sutton Arts Theatre company chose their production well for this year. Director Emily Armstrong has done a fabulous job in putting her own spin on the story, in conjunction with writer Peter Wilman, to produce one of the best amateur pantomime productions I have seen for a very long time. In this instance the term “amateur” relates to the performers giving their time for free only, as the professionalism evident in every aspect of proceedings is the predominant impression, entertaining, and delighting, a full house.

Stage Director John Islip had his work cut out, and excelled. The scenery was colourful and robust, some scene changes complex, and there was the technical challenge of a talking mirror, which behaved itself impeccably. It was a visual delight, as were the lavish costumes.

Children played the seven dwarfs. Patsy Broom, Alicia McBrine, Fynn Sweeney, Carianne Wright, Rosie Sweeney, Luke Flaherty, Seanna Rondet and Harrison Casey filling the roles convincingly with enthusiasm and humour, a tribute to both the Director, and Choreographer Emma Allen.

The role of dame is pivotal to a pantomime’s success, Rob Phillips as Dolly Mixture, played her in the style of Don Mclean. His two handers involving love interest Lord Steward, played deadpan by Dave Douglas, with hoary jokes and slapstick comedy, were a treat, particularly the scene with a roaming bear.

Aimee Horner is a delight as Snow White, innocent and cute, without being twee. Her Prince Charming, or in this case Prince George, a dashing Arron Armstrong- Craddock, starts off as a geek, but is much more comfortable when he can shake off the shackles of his books and sweep his girl off her feet. Louise Farmer has been a stalwart of several of the Company’s productions this year. She appears as the Spirit of Gracechurch, narrating between scenes, and providing confidence and presence to the younger members of the cast during chorus and ensemble choreography numbers.

However the scene stealer in this production is Liz Webster as the wicked stepmother, Queen Griselda. I overheard a young girl behind me, part of a particularly vocal and animated audience, remarking to her mother that she was scared by Liz’s performance. Amidst the ritual booing , hissing and call and response , that was what impressed. It had edge. Sassy and sexy, cold and calculating. She lapped up ad libs from the audience and threw in a very contemporary Nigella Lawson quip for good measure. She was brilliant. Her long suffering sidekick Gobrot was played memorably by Mark Natrass in the style of a dim Baldrick, and appeared quite excited by the prospect of a thrashing from Griselda: “I’ll see how the evening goes”

This is a tremendous show suitable for young children and adults alike who all vociferously enjoyed themselves from start to finish. Ths songs are performed with brio, energy and panache, and yes there is an audience particpation bit! A perfect appetiser for the festive season, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs runs until the 14th December – go and see it!

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