The pantomime at The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre this year is a hilarious and energetic version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs that will have the kids fully entertained and the adults in absolute stitches. The show launched on Friday December 5 and will run all the way through the month, even continuing early into the New Year and is a guaranteed crowd pleaser whatever the age!
This year, the show guest stars Josie Lawrence who is best known for her regular performances on Whose Line is it Anyway? as well as appearing on TV favourites such as QI, EastEnders, Holby City, Skins, Casualty and Jonathan Creek. Lawrence gave a strong performance as Morgiana the Wicked Queen, showcasing her vocal prowess singing an adapted version of Katy Perry’s Roar, whilst her timing and interplay on stage sparkled like her dress throughout the night.
Kit Hesketh-Harvey as Herman the Henchman and Josie Lawrence as the Wicked Queen
Co-starring as Nursey Nora was Eagle Radio presenter Peter Gordon in his ninth consecutive year in the Yvonne Arnaud panto and the GSA graduate, Jamie Brook, who many would recognise as Buttons from last years’ Cinderella show. Brook did a marvellous job as Muddles, interacting with the younger members of the audience throughout, whilst also keeping them giggling with some of the more slap-stick moments in the play. Gordon did a great job keeping the elders enthralled with some classic innuendo alongside Herman the Henchmen, played by the charismatic Kit Hesketh-Harvey.
Adding more of a local presence was Peter Dukes as Prince Christopher (another product of the GSA) and Amy Matthews, who is currently studying at Guildford’s PPA as the eponymous Snow White. It was good to see a number of the ensemble cast including Molly McGuire, Rosie Napper, Carys Anne Swantin, George Hinson and Tayler Davis from PPA also performing next to a multitude of juvenile performers in a host of the bigger numbers.
Amy Matthews as Snow White, Peter Dukes as Prince Christopher and the Ensemble
Also taking to the stage were the seven dwarfs led by Ray Griffiths as Cheeky. Ray has featured in popular TV shows such as Game of Thrones, The Big Breakfast, TFI Friday and The Mighty Boosh as well as three Harry Potter films and Star Wars- The Phantom menace! Mike Edmonds (Prof), Maxwell Laird (Gumbly), Andy Herd (Sniffly), Leigh Gill (Blusher), Jamie Legg (Snoozy) and Karen Anderson-Laird (Dozy) all deserve a mention for their part in a wonderful all-round performance that was as enjoyable as it was entertaining.
Jamie Attle and John Harris did a very credible job in both the costume and lighting design, producing a feast of colour that jumped out from the stage and captivated the audience. Gerry Tebbutt directed, doing a fine job of proficiently managing a mix of dialog, musical numbers, comedy, interaction and narrative. The show was slick and vibrant, felt very professional and was choreographed well by Jill Francis.
Peter Gordon as Nurse Nora, Ray Griffiths as Cheeky and Jamie Brook as Muddles
The highlight of the night was the rendition of Twelve Days of Christmas performed by Muddles, Princey and Nursey Nora that started with an honest Christmas song and ended in utter pandemonium! There were custard pies galore, super soakers coating the audience, underwear thrown into the crowd and plenty of accidental fallings over on stage that at one point saw Peter Gordon’s tutu come off and trousers fall down. This was slap-stick comedy at its best. You could not help but get caught up in the excitement, not knowing whether to laugh or cry- just what you want from a pantomime.
This year, the Yvonne Arnaud has got the basics right with their theatrical performance of Snow White and have struck comedy gold with a mixture of youth, experience and good old fashioned fun. An absolute must see this Christmas!