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Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

James Barry
Hopkins Associates
Princes Hall, Aldershot

Donovan Christian Cary (Dame Dolly Doughnut) and Robert Hopkins (Muddles) Credit: Edward Haversham
Serena Giacomini (Queen Narcissa) Credit: Edward Haversham
Rachel Lea-Gray (Snow White) and Bryn Lucas (Prince Valiant) Credit: Edward Haversham

Disney has a lot to answer for in the world of pantomime. Not only has the House of Mouse helped popularise and give birth to a number of pantomime titles, it has also created the iconic costumes for many a Principal Girl, none so more than Snow White.

But here is where the similarities between Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and that of the Princes Hall, Aldershot end. Writer James Barry and director Robert Hopkins have created a fun-filled family pantomime honouring the genre and favouring tradition over the iconic silver screen adaptation.

As soon as Donovan Christian Cary opens proceedings after the prologue, the audience knows it is in for a good time. Christian Cary's soulful Dame with Jamaican lilt is totally tropical and warms the audience up as she finds a new boyfriend, helps introduce the characters and makes everyone feel welcome.

In their eleventh Aldershot pantomime together, Snow White marks a departure to the usual pairing of Christian Cary and regular Comic Hopkins with Hopkins's Muddles not Dame Doughnut's son but rather the Prince's comedy sidekick. This separation of Dame and Comic affords the skilled performers the opportunity to work the audience independently, allowing for extra mayhem and merriment when their two worlds collide at the Palace and they meet for the first time.

Serena Giacomini brings a refreshing interpretation to the role of Wicked Queen as her Narcissa resembles a spoilt brat of a once-supermodel, frustrated by the process of aging and jealous of those about her. The contrast between her obsession at being the fairest in the land with Dame Doughnut's contentedness works particularly well and the juxtopositioning of "Let it Go" with "All About the Bass" as the two strong female characters' numbers demonstrates the well-rounded nature of the production.

In the role of Herbert the Henchman, James Franklin helps contribute to Narcissa's obsessive nature, adding yet another layer of comedy to proceedings with his well-timed delivery of gags and a physicality that sees Franklin hurl himself off the stage and sprint through the audience as part of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" routine.

This, combined with a subplot which see a perky Clodagh Long as Fairy Clarabelle break Narcissa's narcissistic spell on Herbert, makes him a well-developed Henchman and fundamental to the plot.

Rachel Lea-Gray and Bryn Lucas as Snow White and Prince Valiant exemplify fairytale romance with lighter touches to their dialogue in the form of "OMGs", hashtags and shared gags only adding to their charm.

Strong mask work from lead dwarves Justine Jade and Liane Hempsall help bring their characters to life with Aldershot regular Joanna Fussey a commanding Magic Mirror, keeping Queen Narcissa firmly in her place.

Live music, well-accented comedy moments, a pantomime horse, pyrotechnics and enough sweets for the entire audience make this year's Princes Hall pantomime a right royal treat for all the family.

Reviewer: Simon Sladen