Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
The Best of Shrewsbury – Review by Catherine B
It’s so good it spans two years – with a run of 68 shows Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs at Theatre Severn Shrewsbury is an absolute must see!
This year’s panto has kicked off in style and is on until January 7, 2018 in its longest ever run.
Already 93% sold out, this show, bought to Shrewsbury by local man Paul Hendy of EVOLUTION productions is a true gem in not just the Theatre Severn calendar, but also in panto land as a whole.
It wouldn’t look out of place on the West End, so no wonder it is able to command such a talented cast of professional performers., many of whom have trod the boards there. There’s no wincing in this show as someone tries and fails to belt out a showstopper. Infact, you’re more like to find a tear in your eye and a very warm glow in your heart! Everyone is note perfect and delivers their lines and jokes with ease – the whole show has been written by Paul himself.
A quick count up between the cast last night revealed over 250 pantomime performances between them, many of whom Paul has hand-picked from nationwide scouting.
Now, can we pause for a moment, on the majesty that is Brad Fitt. He started behind the scenes early on in his career, but soon his joke-writing prowess shined through and eventually he was writing, starring and directing the shows. No wonder Paul saw ‘fitt’ to nab him for Shrewsbury. And we are very glad he did because you won’t find a better pantomime dame anywhere!
The stage set gets more impressive year on year. Not only the backdrops, theatre stage borders, costumes and lighting and pyrotechnics, but there is always something magical and this year’s show doesn’t disappoint. There’s even a secret star performer that it was clearly a very big coup to get.
The pantomime has been very well supported over the years and it doesn’t take a genius to see why. It’s simply hilarious, infectious, feel-good fun. This year’s goes one step further and has some really important messages to teach our little ones about friendship, love and the way we treat others. In the sea change of Brexit and the fall out of other big news stories this year, not even panto land is immune from moving with the changing times. And we are jolly glad they have in this easy to digest, family friendly way.
It doesn’t matter how old you are, the Shrewsbury pantomime should be a must in everyone festive season calendar, because it is the epitome of everything Christmas and everything we have come to love about our town.
There is now limited availability…for best available seats, see upper circle and performances Mon 1 – Fri 5 January 2018.
Next year’s pantomime is Mother Goose, which has never been performed at the theatre, and tickets will be on sale soon!
To book, visit www.theatresevern.co.uk or call the Box Office on 01743 281281. And miss out at your peril!
Shropshire What’s On – Review by Chris Eldon Lee
They’re billing it this year as ‘the greatest pantomime of them all’. It’s a brave boast…and, once again, it’s fully justified.
It’s the chemistry, you see, that makes the Shrewsbury show so special. The cast have done over 250 pantos between them…so they supply bags of wonderful experience. Paul Hendy is an excellent script writer, who has no shame when it comes to including utterly stupid jokes. And Brad Fitt (Dame and director) is quite simply the best in the business, who loves to spring surprises. So, for example, his first entrance is dressed in a classic Disney Snow White costume – XXL size.
He teams up with the excellent beanpole comic Matt Dallen (as Muddles) and Radio Shropshire’s matchstick Eric Smith as Herman the Henchman; garbed in medieval black, with wig to match and – as the dame says – ‘Acting up again’. Together they execute the classic sketches the audience is itching for. On come the wheelbarrows, full of comedy props, ready for a shoal of no fewer than 42 fish jokes. “You might think this is a spurious comedy routine just to get cheap laughs”, says Brad. Ummm. Yes. We might.
Then there are two esoteric jokes about medical linctus; which we all know are included merely to set up the annual chorus of “You don’t get that in the Telford Panto”. Later the unmissable it’s-behind-you ghost routine is heralded with a line about “some old woman coming on with a wooden bench”. And there’s a huge cheer of anticipation.
But this is a panto that also goes gloriously off-piste. When the trio take pious Snow White into the woods to murder her (I would tell you that it’s the dastardly Eric that is about to do the evil deed – but that would ruin his rating) the children in the audience fail to warn her.
Well, we can’t have that in panto; so the team goes into a cleverly rehearsed ad-lib routine about how it would cut two hours off the story line and they might as well send the little fellas home. Skilfully they put the panto back on the rails, as I suspect they do every performance.
The little fellas are universally excellent. Dubbed the Severn Seven – and with past credits including Star Wars, Harry Potter and Game of Thrones – they take the micky out of themselves with some top-quality character acting.
Brian Wheeler (with over 30 pantos to his name) plays on-stage ‘Brian’ as a grumpy misogynist, secretly in search of redemption. And Craig Garner (as ‘Cheeky’) has a fabulous singing voice which sets up a situation I’ve never seen in Snow White before, in which one of the dwarves falls for her – in the nicest possible way. They have a duet together in which he sings “you’re out of my reach” (until a chair is brought on for him to stand on to gain a gentle kiss). It’s a magic moment presented with daring, dignity and depth.
The casting is excellent all round. Victoria McCabe is once again deliciously delicate in the leading role; Joanne Heywood has a fabulously fruity laugh as the wicked Queen Ivannah, and Oliver Watton is a boy-next-door Prince Charming. When Evil tries to lure Innocence with the famous line “Where have you been all my life?” the Prince politely points that he wasn’t born for most of it.
And there are other surprises. Who is the man in the mirror? Could it be one of Shrewsbury School’s most famous past pupils? “Well, it’s not Charles Darwin,” gags Fit. And why is he – and everyone else in the show – dressed as Freddie Mercury? As they sing “I Wanna Break Free”, Brad Fitt steals that climactic moment too – by turning up in drag, with a hoover.
40,000 tickets have been sold for this year’s panto. There are still some left. But next year is selling fast too. They’re doing the rarely performed ‘Mother Goose’ and Paul Hendy unreliably informs me that Eric Smith is playing The Goose… and bringing all his own eggs. It’s going to be a cracking panto.