Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
One From The Heart and HQ Theatre
Wyvern Theatre Swindon
It’s always a treat to visit the Wyvern Theatre in Swindon during the panto season. The audiences are always enthusiastic and there was a palpable sense of excitement from the youngsters in the audience and you are sure of a great evening’s performance.
This year, they have chosen Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and it’s brimful of yuletide cheer.
The production standards are high with glorious sparkling costumes, colourful impressive sets, inventive lighting and pyrotechnics and a great band under Robert Rayner’s musical direction.
The story is well known, particularly from the Walt Disney film, but this spirited version written by Simon Aylin has a Swindon base with loads of local references.
To the strains of the James Bond theme tune, Adam Woodyatt (aka Ian Beale from Eastenders) enters with a gigantic water gun and has great fun soaking the audience with screams from the kids—all great panto fun. This is his tenth pantomime and he is completely at ease in his role as Chambers the servant to the Wicked Queen. There was a wonderful moment when he called Snow White Cinderella and then corpsed hilariously but cleverly recovered with a plug for next year’s panto—yes, it’s Cinderella.
Jenny-Ann Topham is the true villain playing the part of the Queen with relish and enjoying all the boos from the audience as she plans her evil plot to kill her stepdaughter Snow White.
Christopher McKay, dressed in a shimmering white outfit, energetically plays the genial Man in the Mirror and quickly establishes a wonderful rapport with the audience with his catchphrase, “that’s the way I like it” with the audience eagerly joining in with the song.
Returning for his fifth year at the Wyvern, David Ashley is superb as Nurse Nelly, the Dame. An accomplished performer, he skilfully works the audience with his own catchphrase, “cooeee”, and when Kevin in the audience doesn’t respond with a reply he is made to do it on his own and this becomes a running gag throughout the show.
The delightful Sophie Camble is excellent as Snow White who is looking forward to her 18th birthday despite the fact that the Queen has banned all celebrations.
When the handsome Prince Harry arrives, charmingly played by James Boyce who is in his final year of training, he proposes marriage to Snow White, much to the angst of the Queen.
Rhys Morgan brings much fun to the hapless character of Nigel who is always getting things wrong and putting his foot in it. He is particularly hilarious together with Nurse Nelly in one of the best slapstick scenes I have seen for years—a true classic interpretation of the wallpaper routine with slosh getting everywhere.
Special mention must go to the seven dwarfs, all from local schools, who are delightful. I wish they had been on stage for longer.
There was strong support from the excellent ensemble from Laine Theatre Arts, with sassy energetic choreography by Chadd Garvie and a splendid group of talented juvenile dancers.
All the favourite elements of panto are in abundance: oodles of audience participation, a fun skeleton gag and a silly song about a penguin with all the audience gleefully joining in with the actions.
The Wyvern has yet another hit on their hands and this must indeed be “the fairest panto in all the land”.
Reviewer: Robin Strapp