Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Ropetackle Arts Centre
Snow White and her colourful Seven Dwarfs have taken residence in the lovely little community theatre space in Shoreham-by-Sea at Ropetackle Arts Centre and the result is a fun evening for the whole family, but particularly the younger audience members, who squealed in delighted as they sat on cushions at the front of the auditorium.
This performance produced by LP Creatives is never going to win any Oscars for fine, in-depth, Stanislavskian performance. Nor is the script going to be up for an Olivier. Yet I don’t suppose this is really a concern for the company or the children watching on who really loved this show.
There are some great lines of dialogue in this piece, many of them delivered by the outrageously fun Nanny Fanny played with pantomimic mastery by David Lambert. There are of course many innuendos to be had with such a character name, but the local jokes also went down well, with everyone from Bognor to Brighton offended ("there will be letters" warns Lambert!).
Lambert is a shining light in this show, particularly when he enters dressed in a replica Snow White costume to great delight amongst this particular audience. The relationship with Muddles, the court jester played by James Elliot, works nicely. The script has new depths of terrible one-liners with Muddles (think really bad Christmas Cracker jokes!) though this strangely seemed to add charm to the character.
Every pantomime archetype is ramped up to 11 on the larger-than-life scale. Grace Dunne as the Evil Queen seems to be encouraging ‘boos’ from the audience—and she gets them in spades, with shouts of disdain from those younger members of the audience surrounding me. Her transformation into the evil witch works well; it is almost as if Dot Cotton is making a comeback as Dunne revels in her evil plan.
Ellen Eckersley’s Snow White is sweet and innocent and she sings her numbers with a lovely tone throughout, particularly evident in the Taylor Swift numbers. There is no doubt that the music feels a little forced at times with little connection to the story, which does jar, despite the best efforts of Eckersley and her fellow performers.
A clever aspect to this performance was the use of the video screen as the "mirror, mirror on the wall". Monty Python legend Carol Cleveland’s interpretation works well, portraying a slightly cheeky mirror, showing a particular penchant for the handsome prince. It was an effective use of technology and works well in engaging with audience members of all ages.
The moment that Grace Dunne’s Wicked Queen is banished into the mirror works particularly effectively and is well timed. This is followed by a slightly cheesy ‘I’m good now’, redemptive scene that never really convinces. We were all enjoying booing for this turnaround to take effect and this sugar-coated response felt out of step with the rest of the story.
Local young actors and dancers help to support the main cast with committed and energetic performances. They are particularly strong as the seven dwarfs and their explanation of Snow White’s unfortunate ‘apple incident’ in particular is very funny and more of this would have been welcomed.
Overall, if you want a great value family pantomime which will particularly delight younger children, you cannot go wrong with a visit to Shoreham-by-Sea this Christmas.
Reviewer: John Johnson