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Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Don't eat the manky apple, Snow White! Oops, too late. Read our review of the Harlequin Theatre's seasonal show, starring - oh yeah! - Ann Widdecombe.

Huzzah! Panto season is well and truly underway – we’ve seen Sleeping Beauty in Camberley and also Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Harlequin Theatre in Redhill. I’m in my happy place, buying those spinny neon thingies, nicking my daughter’s Jelly Babies and joining in just a little bit too enthusiastically.

The good news from Snow White is that it’s very funny.

The cast includes former MP Ann Widdecombe as Queen Grizelda – and anyone who saw her on Strictly Come Dancing or in I’m a Celebrity will know she’s quite good at making fun of herself. It’s not her first panto, of course. She made her stage debut in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs seven years ago playing Widdy in Waiting, a maid to the Wicked Queen. Seems she’s gone up in the panto world!

As Grizelda she was funny and droll – spookily fitting the role very well. It was an impressive performance from a woman who’s now in her 70s, and until a few years ago hadn’t actually ever been on stage. She delivered her lines crisply and concisely – even if at times it did feel as though she were talking to the chamber.

Alongside Widdy we had the Britain’s Got Talent winner Jai McDowall who played Prince Benedict, and returning favourites, Abigail Welford as Snow White, Simon Bashford as the panto dame Dolly Dolittle and Neil Wheatley as Muddles.

While Dolly Dolittle is bouncy, brash and just a little bit rude, Prince Benedict and Snow White serve up plenty of cheese with their romantic numbers. Jai McDowall got to show off his incredible vocals with “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman, among other songs that I can’t remember the names of, duetting with Abigail, who’s also got a hefty set of lungs on her. The other vocal talent that can’t go without mention is Ellie Sharpe who played the Forest Fairy.

Neil Wheatley is bonkers as Snow White’s best friend, and the show rollicks along largely because of his pandemonium. The usual panto rules applied – plenty of audience participation, sing along, shouting out and ‘he’s behind you’ malarky.

And the gags came quick and fast, with Brexit featuring heavily. Well, it would I guess, with a politician in the cast. There were also the usual adult jokes, some skating close to the edge but never quite teetering over.

Special mention to the seven dwarfs, played by the Harlequin children, who sang and danced up a storm. And who I now have to thank for my daughter’s new-found interest in joining a theatre group. The set designs are also impressively done, so hat’s off to the behind-the-scenes team responsible for that.

All in all, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a fun family show: energetic, playful and cheesy. Exactly how panto should be.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is at the Harlequin Theatre in Redhill until Monday 31 December. harlequintheatre.co.uk

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