Friday 29th November 2019 at Harrogate Theatre.
Sparkles and snickers and singing and quipping? It’s panto time in Harrogate!
This take on the classic Snow White is a beautifully adapted homage to all things Yorkshire and Harrogatian thanks to co-writers Phil Lowe (who also directs) and David Bown. Set in Happygate, Yawnshire, this rollicking crowd pleaser entertains all folk, but mostly Yorkshire locals who will enjoy the cheeky asides about the Stray and recent events. Add to the mix plenty of musical numbers and a cracking cast and you’ve got yourself a great start to the Christmas season.
The universally lively and lovable cast include the suitably sugar sweet Zelina Rebeiro as Snow White, Colin Kiyani as her charming, uber-wattaged smiling Prince and Polly Smith as the comically dastardly Wicked Queen Ethel Burger.
They’re joined by the multi-talented Pamela Dwyer as the bubbly delight that is Fairy Ruby Rainbow as well as Ruby Rainbow’s cracking disguise of the manly Scot Hunter the Handyman. Alice Barrott completes the Snow White scene as Magic Mirror, played with a dismissive teenage flair to get the giggles.
But despite this being the classic Snow White with all the trimmings, this is really the No Nonsense Nora the Nanny (Howard Chadwick) and Harry (Tim Stedman) show. The local pair are an institution and their antics are the real heart of Harrogate’s panto regardless of the story they infiltrate. The pair are clearly beloved and the audience were on side and happy to stay there very swiftly.
Stedman delights with a bottomless supply of energy and slapstick shenanigans – his vinyl ditty and recap sequences are panto gold. Chadwick brings a sense of permanent maximum volume to the dame role in every sense and sprinkles it with endearing exasperation and a good dose of winking and nudging to coax generous laughs.
There’s plenty to love across the board too. David Kar-Hing Lee’s choreography, complete with some great synchronised formations delivered by both the young dancers and the cast at large, delivers great energy and great visuals. Nick Lacey’s musical direction and Rachel Sampley’s lighting capture all the right cues for villains and goodies and lovers and pratfalls with the broad, fun strokes of light entertainment.
Morgan Brind’s set and costume designs are brilliant high points, acting as an almighty cherry on the cake. The designs give the overall production that extra layer of sparkle and shine and in a make-believe world of outlandish characters, nothing is so enchanting as equally out-there sets and costumes. Brind’s Dame pieces are particularly fabulous this year, offering a genius ‘kitchen’ gag along with wild shapes and bold shades we’d never find in nature… Other highlights include the inevitable sing-along and the wonderful Seven Dwarves…who are rather charming puppets in this production!
While it may feel just a touch over-long, this is a fun-loving show bursting at the seams with gags and glitter galore. It’s a show which sells itself on all the classic ingredients of panto but also shines all the brighter for the affectionate squeeze it gives to the locality with its Yorkshire-loving re-writes.
Snow White plays Harrogate Theatre until January 19th 2020 – you can find tickets here.