Heigh ho, heigh ho – it’s off to work I go, writing this review. But it’s more pleasure than work. They’ve done it again at the New Wimbledon Theatre with a seasonal treat written by the same author as the very successful Cinderella in 2019, and with the same traditional delights topped up with a dash of modernity. There have to be topical allusions, of course, and the one about Harry and Meghan coincided nicely with the release of the Netflix tale which does not end happily ever after!
The love story of Princess Snow White and Prince Lee does, needless to say. What a pity that the Principal Boy is now always a boy! Wouldn’t it accord with these gender fluid times to have a woman making whoopee with the princess? Fortunately, the Pantomime Dame is still played by a man here, as oversized and coarse as he should be, and just as fond of innuendo.
A lot more of that is served up by Dick and Dom as the court jesters, who take bawdy humour to new heights. Or should that be lows? But getting the audience to shout ‘Bogies!’ at various points certainly delighted the children, who love anything to do with bodily functions.
My favourite was the well-known ‘comedy magician’, John Archer, as Oddjob – not here the villain’s ruthless henchman, who kills people with his teeth, but a bumbling court functionary with a line in magic tricks that don’t always work, who also plays the ukulele.
And what about the villain herself, the evil Queen Lucretia, as poisonous as her Borgia namesake, who envies the ingenue Snow White’s youthful beauty? “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” She doesn’t always like what the Magic Mirror tells her. There is a bloke in the mirror – a plug ugly one. How did he get in there?
Snow White might need a fairy godmother to rescue her from her wicked stepmother, but there isn’t one. However, there is the Spirit of Pantomime, played by Brenda Edwards, still in very good voice after her spectacular début in The X Factor back in 2005. Help is also at hand from the eponymous little people, who like to whistle while they work. Or so they sing, anyway. Their songs reminded me of when my mother took me as a child to see the Disney film of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – not when the movie first came out in 1937, I hasten to add. Here, the dwarves have been christened ‘The Magnificent Seven’, an epithet that is well deserved.
What with singing, dancing, repartee with the audience and all the customary ingredients, this show adds up to a great evening’s entertainment. The story of Snow White comes from a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, and I was saddened to read the other day of a survey which revealed that Generation Z doesn’t like fairy tales, and that the Brothers Grimm now come with a trigger warning. But don’t worry. The New Wimbledon Theatre is a safe space. The only snowflakes will be the ones about to fall outside in the next day or two, according to the weatherman …
- Written by Alan McHugh
- Director : Jonathan Kiley
- Choreographer : Paul Robinson
- Photography by Craig Sugden
- Starring : Ruthie Henshall, Brenda Edwards, Lee Mead
- New Wimbledon Theatre, London Running time : 2½ hours, including Interval
- Until: 31st December 2022