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Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Tunbridge Wells, Assembly Hall Theatre)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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With clever use of lighting effects and gauze screens, the very sad back story of Snow White and the Wicked Queen is soon passed over and, as the gauze lifts, the teenage Snow White runs down the palace stairs and joins the villagers in the rousing opening number which serves as a very good indication of the enthusiasm and energy that will take us all the way to the finale.

The eight stage school dancers and the six senior dancers throw themselves around the stage as if their lives depend on it and, with Snow White, played by Jenny Jones, providing some strong vocals at the front, the opening scene receives a thunderous reception.

Chris Pizzey continues the enthusiastic and energetic start as he bounces onto the stage as Muddles. The children quickly warm to him and are only too pleased to scream and shout on command and, each time the volume cranks up a notch, it’s obvious that Pizzey is loving every moment and is totally at home in his role.

Nurse Dettol is played with great skill by Nick Wilton. Although some of his costumes are maybe not as elaborate as the ones that are appearing in some other local pantomimes, they are very colourful and, to be fair, his finale outfit is quite spectacular.

Displaying his vocal talent, his devastatingly handsome looks, and his immediate infatuation with Snow White is Toby Alexander-Smith as the Prince. He plays along with the comedy well, but works his way through the slushy stuff even better. As he bent over to kiss the poisoned Snow White in Act Two, I could see many “Mums” in the audience who would gladly have swapped places with her for a while!

Without doubt, one of the highlights of the show happens as the spotlights work their way through the audience to find the Seven Dwarfs at the back of the auditorium. They march toward the stage accompanied by their theme tune and the claps and cheers of hundreds of children, and adults, who are delighted to see that real dwarfs star in this show. Throughout the show they all work well together, providing some great comic moments together with a little sadness too and their cottage, with its seven tiny beds, is very well designed and beyond cute.

Janine Duvitski is an inspired choice to star as the Wicked Queen. Her experience as a comic actress comes in very handy, particularly in her scenes with the mirror, and her inability to get the other characters names correct is a brilliant running gag. She also sparkles in her seduction scenes with the, totally uninterested, Prince. She is so determined to “have” him that some of the scenes are so cringingly funny, it is almost uncomfortable to watch.

The highlights of the production have to be the fantastic "Twelve days of Christmas" number and one of the dwarfs (Josh Bennett), who has the misfortune to be unwillingly included in the traditional song sheet number – both scenes are brilliantly funny and guaranteed crowd-pleasers in this wonderfully traditional and very entertaining show.


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