Take your first Steps to a perfect Christmas! With last year’s Aladdin interrupted by the pandemic, the New Theatre’s annual in-house panto returns with the spirit of Christmas back in full swing. Presented by Crossroads Pantomimes and directed by David Burrows, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a magic apple you’ll want to take a bite of.
Alan McHugh’s script draws on the story we know from Disney’s animated retelling while bringing some big panto laughs. Denquar Chupak plays the titular princess with characteristic sweetness and style, making a welcome return to the New after playing Princess Jasmine last year alongside Gareth Gates as Aladdin. A lovely romance blossoms between her and Nay-Nay Gapomo’s Prince Carwyn, who Queen Lucretia (Siân Reeves) has her (evil) eye on.
Local boy and pop icon Ian ‘H’ Watkins from international supergroup Steps plays the Spirit of the Mirror and has an absolutely smashing (!) time onstage. Decked out in silver sparkles (imagine if the Tin Man started a pop career and you’re halfway there), he gets the audience on their feet and Stomp-ing to the beat of a classic pop medley quicker than you can say 5, 6, 7, 8! He’s far and away the Heart(beat) of the show. If, by the time you see H from Steps riding a flying motorbike over the audience, you don’t feel as though you’ve got your money’s worth, then that really is a Tragedy.
He riffs especially well off the other two feathers on the show’s Welsh crown: legendary Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas as Henchman ‘Alfie’, and Panto Dame Extraordinaire Mike Doyle as Nurse Nancy (who’ll be at the New again in February with his own show, ‘Rock with Laughter’). While a few of the tropes could do with an upgrade – the 12 Days of Christmas went on about a week too long for me, but the kids in the audience were loving it – they’re performed with such joy that you can’t help but join in (though I think the time could have been better spent with another Steps dance-break, for example!) There’s potty humour for the little ones and innuendo for the adults, and while it’s not always my cup of tea, it was often my cup of cocoa – which Mike Doyle dresses up as in one memorable moment! His Shirley Bassey has to be seen to be believed, though my personal fave is an outfit that cannot be described and certainly not Trifled with.
While ‘The Magnificent Seven’ of the title don’t feature often, they make an impression when they do – kudos to Gareth Elis, Ella Howlett, Mia Jae, Tiaan Jones, JB Maya, and especially James Rockey as the Seven’s eccentric Eric Idle-esque leader Doc (though I was quite surprised they hadn’t cast actors of short stature in these roles). But it’s better the devil you know as Siân Reeves vamps and camps it up as the vain(glorious) Lucretia, especially during her own Steps number – though if anyone’s walking away from this show with a crown, it’s Britain’s Got Talent finalist Steve Hewlett, whose ventriloquist act with grouchy puppet ‘Arthur’ has more than earned his royal seal of approval!
With enchanting scenery and brilliant special effects, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is brimming with festive magic and brings a fantastic new twist on the original tale you know and love.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is playing at the New Theatre through to 8 January 2023. You can find more information on the show and book tickets here.