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REVIEW: Snow White at the Roses Theatre

Snow White at The Roses Theatre in Tewkesbury

Snow White
Written by Maurice Gran and Nick Wilkes
Directed by Charlotte Peters
Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury
1 December 2022


Rating: ★★★
My wife Julia – she’s Canadian – just doesn’t get panto.  “Why’s he dressed like Barbara Cartland?”  “What’s with the dancing horse?”  “Can we go now?”
Me?  I love it.  I think panto is a quintessential part of British culture, like The Last Night of the Proms, Greggs’ sausage rolls and grossly underfunded public healthcare.  This year’s panto at the Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury, tells the story of the attempted assassination of a beautiful princess with a piece of fruit.  If that doesn’t put the kids off their five-a-day, nothing will.
Writers Maurice (Birds of a Feather, etc) Gran and Nick Wilkes have dragged this traditional tale into the 21st century, gussying it up with an eco-theme and references to digital doohickery, while leaving the essence of the story unaltered.
Vain, villainous Malvina (chillingly played by Tracy Collier) is told by her ‘smart mirror’ Reflexa that her stepdaughter Snow (Georgia Mann, fresh from drama school) is more beautiful than she.  Crazed with envy, Malvina hypnotises amiable woodcutter Jim (Elliott Wooster, channelling Draco Malfoy) into threatening Snow with his diminutive chopper.  Snow is helped by her platonic bestie, Ted (Murray Andrews, who quickly befriends the audience) and the Dame, Nanny Mac (the magnificent Jolyon Dixon, in show-stealing form).  The kindly, Minion-like ‘Scallions’ (a gaggle of young stars in the making) give Snow sanctuary in their humble home.  Malvina tries to murder Snow, using an Apple Mac with a poisoned keyboard, and … well, you know the rest.
This uproarious production has everything you could wish for in a family panto: cross-dressing; songs old and new; audience participation; flamboyant frocks; rib-ticklers and groaners; a communal singalong; a smidgin of satire and a smattering of smut.  The sharp, savvy script also includes The Best Gag Ever, borrowed from Dad’s Army.

ME:  Shall I tell ’em The Best Gag Ever, kids?
KIDS:  Don’t tell ’em, Paul!
ME:  Okay.  I shan’t.

The eclectic soundtrack, ably performed by two-man orchestra Lee O’Reilly and Max Guest, ricochets from Stephen Sondheim to George Ezra, via ABBA, Meghan Trainor and – one for the youngsters – Jeff Beck.
After a trepidatious start, the performers visibly relaxed and grew in confidence as the show progressed.  Things perked up during a frenetic rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas, when fistfuls of sweets and a giant beachball were thrown into the auditorium, a group of sugar-maddened Brownies went ape, and we achieved lift-off.
I’ll leave the last word to the elderly lady sitting next to me:

ELDERLY LADY:  Are you involved in the production?
ME:  No.  I’m a reviewer.
ELDERLY LADY:  Well, I hope you tell your readers it was WONDERFUL!

Reader, it was wonderful.  Even Julia would have enjoyed it.  Oh yes, she would.
Running time: 2 hours (including interval)
Snow White runs at the Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury, until 31 December 2022

The Roses Theatre is fundraising to make its backstage area more accessible.  For more information, including ways to donate, go to:

Reviewer: © 2022 Paul Sharples
Explore Gloucestershire
1 December 2022

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