There is something uniquely comforting about a panto. As someone who didn’t grow up with them, they were quite a shock, since they seem to be against every aspect of the British stereotype: so much colour, chaos and irreverence! And Snow White at the Greenwich Theatre delivered all that and more.
A twist on Snow White, this show featured an incredible cast of performers from some of the biggest shows of the year, like Prince Charming from Charmington who was in Les Cages Aux Folles, and the Huntsman, fresh off the National Theatre of The Crucible! But the real star of the show was undoubtedly Queen Narcissus, played by Anthony Spargo, who also wrote the show and is panto royalty in his own right.
This charming show takes a little while to find its footing, which is a surprise since the opening number is a rendition of 9 to 5, a famously upbeat and exciting tune that, in this case, didn’t quite hit its mark. When it gains momentum though, the audience is transported to a frozen fairytale world where the vain Queen Narcissus is getting ready to meet a new suitor while everyone else in the palace works from dawn til dusk. The costume design for the queen is absolutely brilliant, so much creativity is put into it, and we get many fun variations and reveals throughout the show.
Maybe it’s because the queen is such a presence, but whenever she was on stage, all other characters faded into the background, even the titular Snow White who despite her wonderful singing voice, didn’t make much of an impression. When Prince Charming makes his entrance, we have a Love is an Open Door moment that made more than one member of the audience sigh, and I’d dare say not in a good way. I think we are starting to reach a point of Frozen burnout and I wish we didn’t see as many references to it anymore. In truth, a lot of the children at the performance I attended looked younger than 10, which means they weren’t even born when Frozen came out, so to them it must feel like an outdated reference already. Speaking of song choices, this panto had quite the eclectic mix, going from Dolly Parton to Queen via Taylor Swift, which didn’t always feel quite appropriate for the moment but were always performed beautifully.
A clear highlight was the final number of act one, in which the Greenwich Theatre production team showed how they have nothing to envy the big theatres of the West End by putting on an incredible number with brilliant light effects and outstanding choreography with a hilarious wink to Claudia Winkleman in The Traitors. Just phenomenal. The Prince is indeed charming, the Huntsman is adorably endearing, and I wish we could have seen more of them throughout. Same with the Magic Mirror! Deearna McClean is such a talent, and it was heartbreaking to have only seen her shine (pun intended) for one number.
The staging and the props were so beautiful, and the use of the rotating stage was very cleverly done, but same as with the song choice, I wish we could take a step back from the Frozen influence. At this point it feels like a crutch, which this show absolutely did not need because it can more than stand as a brilliant piece on its own.
Snow White runs at Greenwich Theatre until 7th January. For more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.
AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography provided by PR