Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
First Family Entertainment
When Augustus Harris took over the management of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in 1879, he popularised the use of Music Hall stars which paved the way for the commercial sector's penchant for celebrities and a new era in the history of pantomime.
Today, the industry boasts a whole range of famous faces, from talent show winners to Hollywood legends and this year the Richmond Theatre retains its American flair after 2013's Peter Pan with Henry Winkler as Jerry Hall makes her pantomime debut in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Always on the look-out for the next big name, First Family Entertainment has struck gold with Hall. As the Wicked Queen she snarls, stares and struts across the stage revelling in the role and conjuring boos with effortless ease. Hall is a pantomime natural, working the audience at every opportunity and menacingly flaring her nostrils as she plots to destroy Snow White.
There is a feel of something very special at the Richmond Theatre this year, which is not only down to an excellent headliner, but also due to the casting of one of the best Comics in the business—Chris Jarvis as Muddles.
Jarvis's Frank Spencer cum Norman Wisdom approach captures the essence of the naughty schoolboy and combines it with great slapstick physicality. Passionate about the genre, Jarvis has refined and perfected the role having studied it for decades. His infectious energy adds a sense of charm and chaos to his scenes and makes him the friend we all wish to have.
Not only has First Family Entertainment nabbed a top Comic from rivals UK Productions, they have also engaged the services of experienced pantomime director Carole Todd, who gives the show a polished feel as it flows from scene to scene, each and every line thought through and engaging in its delivery.
Small additions to Eric Potts's script greatly improve the comic nature of the show and make Herman the Henchman a meaty role in the hands of Nicolas Colicos who rings every last laugh out of his material and humourous asides.
As Snow White and the Prince, Aimie Atkinson and Shaun Dalton sing beautifully, but it is perhaps the dwarves who receive the biggest cheer of the night. In addition to the usual plot, the magnificent seven are rehearsing for Moravia's Got Talent which sees a whole host of acts peppered throughout the show acting as modern front-cloth sequences and providing the panto's uplifting final number.
As mute dwarf Loopy, it is Paddy Holden who steals the audiences hearts as he saves the day and has them rolling in the aisles with this expressive face and Susan Boyle impression, whilst Jon Key's lovable Grumbly receives the greatest jeers when he suggest cleaning is woman's work.
A top cast and plenty of laughs make this year's Snow White a pantomime full of sparkle and smiles.
Reviewer: Simon Sladen