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Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Paul Hendy
Evolution Productions
Alban Arena, St. Albans
(2011)

Snow White, Alban Arena

Female-led narratives can often lack the drive of their male counterparts due to the plot concentrating on matters of the heart. However at the Alban Arena, Snow White zips along at a great pace brimming with energy thanks to a strong script from Paul Hendy and skilful comic performances from Bob Golding and Phil Gallagher as Herman the Henchman and Muddles.

Pantomimes thrive off double acts and there is none more glorious than that between Golding and Gallagher. Evolution’s pantomimes are always awash with comedy and the company boasts some of the best Comics the country has to offer. As Herman the Henchman, Golding channels Eric Morecombe and is the Comic for the parents, whilst CBeebies’ Mister Maker aka Gallagher is the Comic the kids adore.

The two have a wonderful rapport not only with each other but with the many constituent parts of the audience. The adults enjoy Golding’s gags and physicality, whilst the youngsters can’t scream “Hiya Muddles” loud enough each time Gallagher appears. They delight in his silly faces and raise the roof when he makes a bunch of flowers for Snow White with a little help from the audience. The reference to Gallagher’s television persona Mister Maker fits the narrative perfectly and does not feel shoe-horned in, as is so often the case.

Without a Dame, Herman the Henchman fulfils many of the cross-dressed damsel’s functions and indeed both grace the stage in skirts. Like any good Dame and Comic partnership, Golding and Gallagher excel in their patter and non-scripted audience banter, especially during their 32 consecutive chocolate puns in Act One and later, deep in the forest, when attempting to carry out the Wicked Queen’s orders to kill Snow White. But whereas Muddles dreams of winning Snow White’s affection, Herman dreams to be the King. Unlike the Wicked Queen, however, he does not wish to take over the land, but to rock the stage one day as the King himself, Elvis Presley. And just as Snow White gets her Prince in the end, Herman’s dream also comes true, resulting in a glorious finale to Act Two.

Jemma Carlisle’s Snow White is a pretty Principal Girl and along with David McGranaghan as her Prince Charming the two draw the audience in with their touching romance. Their duets are full of emotion and tenderness and McGranaghan’s smooth voice gives ‘Go The Distance’ real poignancy.

Meddling in their affairs and wanting to dispose of Snow White to be re-crowned the fairest in the land, Toyah Wilcox’s Wicked Queen struts across the stage, full of venom and ready to pounce on any unsuspecting man. Her wicked ways have the audience booing throughout and Wilcox’s musical numbers enable her to release her inner rock-chick courtesy of musical direction from Michael Roulston.

Accolade Production’s Magic Mirror is an impressive piece of audio visual technology and the decision to fly it in and out means that it can appear in an instance, rather than requiring a whole scene change for the specific cloth. Hendy’s Snow White uses the mirror to dispose of the Wicked Queen; however it does appear rather illogical that the audience helps in her demise when in Act One Queen Ivannah clearly states that only she can summon the enchanted looking glass.

Receiving a deafening cheer as they enter through the audience, the talented troupe of dwarves under the leadership of Phil Holden’s Sarge is a delight, with Paddy Holden’s Loopy stealing the hearts of the audience. Each character is perfectly formed and each persona well defined and they thoroughly deserve their title of the Magnificent Seven.

Full of love, laughter, sincerity and silliness, the Alban Arena has struck gold with this year’s pantomime Snow White.

‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ plays at the Alban Arena, St. Albans until 1st January 2012.

Reviewer: Simon Sladen