SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS
By Harry Michaels
Theatre Royal, Nottingham
There has hardly been a more essential time to have a good laugh. The cost-of-living crisis and increased energy bills mean that the number of people who want a good night out with plenty of laughs—if they can afford it—is increasing by the day.
Step forward Joe Pasquale. He has been making people laugh on stage and the small screen for more than 30 years, and panto is a perfect vehicle for his wacky, mischievous humour.
It is obvious that Pasquale is the star of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Not only does he get top billing as Muddles, he also gets a credit in the programme for the additional material. And from the moment he appears as Toilet Man, he is flushed with success.
Adults enjoy his performance because of the risqué content while younger members can hardly control themselves at his antics, especially when he goes into a routine about breaking wind.One of the funniest scenes involves a revolving stool whose centre spindle protrudes, causing Pasquale an “injury” which means his voice is even squeakier than normal. He gains sympathy from the audience when he has to appeal to the sound operator to turn off the special effect.
It is evident that the producers, Crossroad Pantomimes, have invested heavily on this lavish production. At one point, Pasquale gets into a car which flies above the audience—how the children love that—and Queen Lucretia’s mirror is not on a wall but appears majestically out of the orchestra pit as a revolving screen.
Obviously, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is not a one-man show. Faye Tozer, best known as one of the singers in Steps but also an experienced musical theatre actress, pitches Queen Lucretia to perfection. She is delightfully over the top and resists the temptation to ham up the role.
David Robbins is everything you would expect from a dame as Nelly Nightnurse and Jamal Kane Crawford makes the most of the fairly limited role of Prince William of West Bridgford. The pair of them join Pasquale and Tozer for a fast, slick rendition of a song about what they would do if they were not in pantoland. Pasquale gets battered and bashed as it intentionally goes wrong. It is slapstick at its best, prompting shouts of “we want more!” from the audience.
Some of the other performers take not so much a back seat as a supporting role: Lucy Ireland as Snow White, Natalia Brown as the Spirit of Pantomime and the Magnificent Seven dwarfs get little chance to show the full range of their talents.
Harry Michaels’s script races along, packing an incredible amount into the show’s 95 minutes including a clever move which veers away from the usual plot line of Snow White dying after eating a poisoned apple.
There is only one song that the cast can do for an encore, Faye Tozer leading everyone in a rendition of “Tragedy”, with several people in the audience enthusiastically joining in with hand gestures and dancing.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is far from a tragedy and you should definitely take steps to see it.
* This review originally appeared on the British Theatre Guide website