Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton
If anyone owns the right to the title ‘Wicked Queen of Pantoland’ it is Linda Lusardi. Over the past decade she has made the role well and truly her own and this year brings her deliciously vile Villainess to Wolverhampton.
Since graduating from the role of Snow White, Lusardi has delighted audiences wherever she goes with her Queen Lucretia. Her cackles draw hisses galore and although Lusardi receives boos a plenty, the dads particularly enjoy her seductive Villainess who isn’t afraid to show a little bit of leg just like the Principal Boys of yore. Lusardi’s wealth of experience means she knows exactly how to work and feed off the audience and in this production she even flies out into the stalls to taunt the children aboard her magic broomstick at the end of Act One.
Keeping it firmly in the family, Lusardi’s husband Sam Kane directs this high energy production and plays possibly the oldest Prince in Pantoland. In the roles of Wicked Queen and Prince, the married couple embrace allusions to their private life and seem to enjoy the on-stage jostling as the Wicked Queen Lucretia tries to seduce Prince William of Wednesbury. Lines such as “Can you imagine being married to that?” herald the employment of an extra contextual frame of reference and remind the audience of the multi-layered nature of any pantomime persona.
Like Lusardi, the Grumbleweeds have also previously been seen at the Wolverhampton Grand in Snow White and this year play the roles of Muddles and Oddjob. A talented comedy duo, they occupy many a front cloth scene, although most have nothing to do with the plot and merely add to the running time. Appearances from Ali G, Ozzy Osbourne and the Teletubbies, although funny, are more than just a little outdated and Robin Colvill and Graham Walker also seem a tad too keen to flash some flesh like their co-star Lusardi. Walker participates in near-naked rollerskating and Colvill, when donning a negligee for the mirror sequence, plays with his gusset leaving nothing to the imagination.
The Seven Dwarves are brought to life by the talented children of the Classic Academy of Dance with Niki Evans’ sparkling Forest Fairy Loreelei giving Lusardi a run for her money in the glamour stakes. A strong voiced Snow White from Eloise Irving helps drive the narrative and Olly Ashmore’s tuneful score is sung with crisp vocal clarity, although it is somewhat a shame that the over amplified click tracks and five piece band under the direction of David Lane render Ashmore’s lyrics inaudible on more than one occasion.
As a theatrical event for all the family, pantomime needs to provide something for everyone, but with a little too much of the Grumbleweeds’ flesh on show, the Wolverhampton Grand’s Snow White is rather more Grimm than Disney.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs plays until 22nd January 2012.
Reviewer: Simon Sladen