Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

December 22, 2022 | By More

★★★★☆   Reassuringly funny

Festival Theatre: Sat 17 Dec – Sun 22 Jan 2023
Review by Hugh Simpson

The ‘King’s pantomime’ may have moved across to the Festival Theatre this year, but little else has changed in this year’s offering of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Allan Stewart and Grant Stott are still in harness with Jordan Young having established himself as a regular – and they are still very funny indeed.

Allan Stewart, Grant Stott & Jordan Young. Pic: Douglas Robertson.

Much of what surrounds the comedy in Harry Michaels and Stewart’s script is extremely traditional, with the usual habit of rewriting recent songs replaced by several numbers from the 1937 Disney version of the story.

Pantomime always has to be reassuringly unchanging in many ways, but also must be aware of the real world. Grappling with modern sensibilities does not always come easily to the bigger budget versions of the genre, and this is in evidence here.

Performers of short stature have been cast this time round, which has not always been the case in recent years. Despite the show’s title, they are only referred to as the ‘Magnificent Seven’, and it seems at first that they are going to play a pivotal role in proceedings; however, they are soon largely sidelined.

Tweaked

Similarly, the story of Snow White and the Prince has been tweaked in order to give her more agency, but once again the characters are underused. Francesca Ross is a tuneful Snow White, with Brian James Leys making the most of his limited stage time thanks to a considerable presence.

Francesca Ross and Brian James Leys. Pic: Douglas Robertson.

Liz Ewing’s Queen Dragonella is also lacking in impact, which is partly down to splitting the boo-hiss baddie role between her and Stott’s Lord Lucifer, who has to do much of the narration. Lucifer has been trapped in the Queen’s magic mirror, in a plot development that is unexpected and frankly somewhat baffling.

Of course, the storyline is secondary to the comic business, with Stewart’s Nurse May and Young’s Muddles bouncing off each other and Stott in a series of comic set pieces. Tongue-twisters, ludicrous musical numbers, corny jokes and local references abound.

The sheer comic invention on display shows that there is considerable mileage left in this format, which is fortunate considering that so much of the show is taken up with the various routines.

as sharp as ever

Stewart’s timing, audience rapport and penchant for a withering look or wounded barb are as sharp as ever. Stott’s relish for being booed, and joy at being the centre of things, are still evident, while Young’s comic gifts, both vocally and physically, are well to the fore.

Liz Ewing. Pic: Douglas Robertson.

A change in venue has not caused any great alterations, aside from the odd change to the ‘latecomers’ routine; there are still the rehearsed ad-libs, carefully-staged accidents, and the odd genuinely unscripted moment of hilarity.

While much of it is very funny, there is still the odd moment that could be tightened up. The ‘lip-syncing’ routine strays too far from double entendre and into rather one-note, decidedly adult territory. Among the crowd-pleasing local references, there are a couple of ill-advised topical references that fall decidedly flat.

The focus on the central trio does mean that others have limited opportunities, with Claire Gray (Princess Lavinia) having little chance to display her comic prowess.

indefatigable

The retro musical numbers are done justice by Andy Pickering’s indefatigable band, a talented ensemble and Karen Martin’s choreography.

As always, the visual impact is considerable, with the video design of Duncan McLean, the effects of Twins FX and Ian Westbrook’s sets all impressing.

The direction of Ed Curtis is flexible enough to incorporate all of the old-fashioned and more modern elements. At times the pace does threaten to flag, but when the audience and performers are having so much fun nobody could begrudge even one minute.

Running time: Two hours and 25 minutes (including one interval)
Festival Theatre, 13/29 Nicolson Street EH8 9FT
Tue – Sat: 2pm & 7pm; Suns, Sat 24 & Sat 31: 1pm & 5pm.
No mats: Wed 4, Thurs 19, Fri 20 Jan
Tickets and details: Book here.

Francesca Ross and The Magnificent Seven. Pic: Douglas Robertson.

ENDS

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Comments (1)

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  1. AJL says:

    Went on Wed 21 Dec afternoon performance.. what a show.. fantastic sets costumes and so slick ..there’s no way you can’t leave without feeling uplifted and cheerful gets you into the festive mood… its a must see… well done to orchestra,lighting, backstage and all those front house ..oh and all the cast HAHAHA..CAN’T WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR…