Want an extravaganza of everything panto? Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in Milton Keynes is jam packed with goodies that will leave you feeling very festive for the holiday season.
Princess Snow White is kind, caring and beautiful. All her friends say she should marry Prince Harry, but they are yet to meet. When they do its love at first sight. However, Queen Dragonella has other ideas as she feels she is the fairest in the land and wants Harry for herself. Queen Dragonella has a jester called Muddles and he has a friend called Odd Job. They really are double trouble and always joking about. Queen Dragonella uses her dark magic to hypnotise them to take Princess Snow White in the forest and kill her. Luckily, Snow manages to break the spell but realises she cannot go back so finds a cottage to stay in. This cottage belongs to the magnificent seven – yes, you’ve guessed it – seven dwarfs.
This is so much to love in this panto. Firstly, let’s talk about Queen -don’t call me Lesley - Dragonella played by Lesley Joseph. Lesley is a veteran, and her comic timing was so on point, it was like a masterclass. During the 12 days of Christmas which is always funny, her wig came off and she accidentally called the five toilet rolls ‘gold toilet rolls’. Well, that’s an easy mistake to make but levelled up the humour factor. Lesley is an absolute joy to watch. I recently reviewed her in Sister Act so its lovely to see her again. This woman oozes talent and has very funny bones.
Humour from Odd job and Muddles delivers in abundance. Odd job is better known as Paul Chuckle. Helllooooo! (You will get this when you see the show). He was very funny with his Idle (not Lidl) shopping trolley, throwing things out into the audience and his song was…well it could be aimed at adults as well as kids. If Paul isn’t enough, we also have Muddles played by Arron James. Together they are incorrigible and there were moments that really were rather naughty such as a cucumber in a box that Muddles is going to cut with his sword as a magic trick. When Dragonella says she needs them to go deep in the forest, Paul asks if that is an euhemerism. Lesley laughed and called him naughty, and it got a riotous laugh from the adults in the audience. Paul and Arron have several funny scenes together but the one where Muddles is doing his Elvis impression is a classic. Arron is also a very talented impressionist and does a quick A-Z of impressions including Arnold Schwarzenegger which he did for me when I interviewed him. I’m so glad everyone gets to see this and how talented Arron is.
Charlotte Haines plays Snow White and is just perfection. Her speaking voice has excellent diction and her singing voice – wow! Charlotte also gives Snow the ‘nice’ factor so we know she would be on Santa’s nice list. Her true love is Prince Harry of Haversham, played by Dale Mathurin. Dale makes a dashing prince, but then he is a Shakespearian thespian. He can also sing and really knocks it out of the park with some of the numbers. The man in the mirror is played by Rob Rinder. Rob has done strictly so is not averse to a bit of sparkle, but his costume is fab-u-lous. And as a judge, you expect him to be just and fair so this is his ideal role as he cannot lie. The magnificent seven dwarfs use the same magic that is used for the prince in Shrek to allow them their vertically challenged status. I really enjoyed them riding the forest animals.
If all this outstanding acting and humour isn’t enough, let me tell you about the ensemble. The Winter Festival is such a stunning song and dance set piece it could be out of a Rogers and Hammerstein musical. Singing some of our favourite Christmas songs, if this doesn’t get you in the mood for the festive season, nothing will. The costumes are second to none – just outstanding not only in this number, but also the royal wedding at the end of the show. The five-year-old inside me wanted to be wearing them, but my adult voice was saying ‘Its dry clean only!’
Finally, a panto wouldn’t be complete without some audience participation and so four members of the audience volunteered to go on stage and do a story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. This was very funny. Don’t think that just because it is adults on stage, they will do what is asked. Oh no – some adults tried to avoid the obvious custard pie faces – Tiswas has a lot to answer for.
Snow White delivers everything you want in a panto. Laughs, Christmas songs, stunning outfits, magical effects, and a story with a modern twist that warms your heart. As Rob said to me in my interview with him: ‘What’s not to love?’
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is playing at Milton Keynes Theatre until 8 January 2022.
Photo credit: Barry Rivett