Upon sitting down in the Amy White Theatre before the final performance of Snow White, the atmosphere was already buzzing. A simple projection of the title was displayed upon closed curtains – but the magic lay in the people who welcomed the audience, displayed programmes and cheerfully explained safety regulations and announcements. There was even a pre-show practise for the infamous panto boos and cheers. The magic didn’t stop when the show ended, either; the cast appeared in the auditorium to meet gleeful watchers and take selfies. [Which we took full advantage of!]
The show began with Fairy Goodheart and Professor Wonderwings (the pair played by Tammy Hazell-Ravel and Carol Ball respectively) introducing the story. The duo had excellent chemistry and naturally polarised characteristics, with humorous use of posture and gait. They returned throughout the piece, acting as narrators and guides for the action on stage.
The audience were then introduced to Dame Dolly Dumpling and her son, Danny. Dolly, played by Ian Townsend, was cheeky and comically aggressive at times, which was hilarious to watch. Her son Danny, played by Kyle Quinn, had so much energy on stage – clearly a very passionate performer! With that said, the pair were prominent throughout the show and carried a lot of the performance’s humour with ease.
Meeting Snow White eliminated any qualms we could have had about the professionalism of this company. Emily Smith, who played the titular character, is a star. Her sweet singing voice and warm performance easily drew us into the performance. Having had the pleasure of seeing last year’s panto, Peter Pan, Emily’s vocal development is clear. She is going from strength to strength and this could not have been more evident than in her outstanding performance of “I Need a Hero”, which blew us away.
At the same time as we met Snow White, the audience were treated to the main ensemble’s energetic and immaculate performances. Sometimes in pantomimes, the chorus parts can feel like sticky parts that you, as a watcher, just have to “get through”. Amy White Theatre’s panto was not like this. All parts (especially the children’s ensemble) gave the singing, dancing, and acting their all and it was lovely to see how much the whole cast were enjoying themselves. The dancing was simple, yet synchronised from all cast members, making it a joy to behold.
There were some smaller ensembles within the cast who worked incredibly well with each other. The first to be introduced to us was the gang of murderesses: Bogwort, Frogwort and Stinkwort, played by Mel Smith, Becky Jones and Vicky Hartley respectively. These three had outstanding group dynamics and utilised positioning and levels to great effect alongside their endearing performances. The other noteworthy ensemble was the gang of seven dwarfs played as follows (here we go): Sniffly by Kat Flynn, Cheerful by Megan Sowter, Disney by Katie Kirby, Dozy by Abbie Lemon, Snoozy by Mary Harding, TD by Bet Hartley and Grouchy by Tressa Lambert. The seven were incredibly well characterised, and all worked on stage together. They breathed a lot of life into the show as a whole. In particular, the song ‘Consider Yourself’ (originally from Oliver!) was a showstopper and the dwarfs really came into their own during it.
There are just three more performances that must be talked about. First, Ross Smallcome, who played Prince Frederick. This was a charming performance and suited the character well. There was a “glitter incident” at the end of the show where Ross ended up with an eyeful of green glitter. This was hilarious and he played it up excellently to be one of the best laughs of the evening. Secondly, Chuck Wilson as Black Wing, the Queen’s evil servant. Chuck provided a very nice take on the character and even received some strong boos from the audience. Finally, Ian Briggs as Queen Grimelza was a showstopper. Ian’s campy yet diabolical performance had us in fits from start to end. The comedic timing, facial expressions, and traditional panto-villain banter was absolutely on point and made him hugely entertaining to watch. With constant asides and witty comments to the audience, Ian is definitely one to watch out for in future pantos with this company!
With individual performances aside, Snow White was particularly outstanding in terms of props, set, lighting and costumes. In the props department, there was a delightful mixture of self-aware minimalism (a furry lump on a leash being used as Fang the dog) and stunning set pieces (huge headdresses made to look like bushes). Well done to Jools Partridge as the stage hand for navigating the organisation of all of that! The static set was used to great effect and was rich in colour and brilliance. Ollie Partridge’s lighting was very professional for the limited space and the lighting crew can be credited for perfectly meeting the cues on stage… no lighting issues here! The most striking technical aspects were the costumes. The costumes embodied each character wonderfully and were of a very high standard. They looked as though they should have broken the bank for their sheer number and the time that must have gone into their crafting. For this, Tressa Lambert deserves a round of applause.
Amy White Theatre is a place to watch in coming years for the sheer quality of amateur production that they have produced recently. The company is exemplary in their energy and dedication to the art of pantomime. Well done all!
By Nathan Stubbings and Abbie Revert.