Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Hawth, Crawley, until January 7
Most parents of young children approach making the annual pilgrimage to the local pantomime with a degree of both anticipation and trepidation.
There is no doubt that the traditional festive showcase is a highlight of the season for many families but, every so often, it can appear that the cast are going through the motions and following a tired old panto blueprint, which, while delighting the youngsters, can make for a tedious afternoon or evening for some mums and dads.
There is no danger of anybody being bored at The Hawth Theatre during the next four weeks. Without any question, its spectacular production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is an absolute triumph in every sense of the word and the must-see family show this year.
While capturing the end-of-the-pier spirit of the classic panto, Snow White is very much a 21st century creation, complete with a raft of special effects and slick choreography.
The audience first gets a hint that this is a panto with a difference when everybody gets handed a pair of 3D glasses before taking their seats. Without giving the game away completely, it is absolutely worth picking up the free specs because they make for 10 minutes of very memorable theatre.
There are plenty of surprises in this take on Snow White, which is full of great, well thought through gags, which tickled both young and older members of the audience during our visit on Saturday evening.
The headline name, Stephen Mulhern, is a dynamic leading man with his portrayal of the hapless Muddles, whose love for the female star of the show, played by the excellent Lauren Cocoracchio, is destined to remain unrequited.
Mulhern, star of television shows such as Saturday Night Takeaway, Britain’s Got Talent and Catchphrase, is a highly capable performer, who clearly loves every minute of being on stage and is more than adept at taking the audience with him.
But it is Michael J Batchelor, Dame Molly Mopp and scourge of all middle aged men brave enough to sit on the front row, who gets the biggest laughs and steals every scene he is in, largely due to his outrageous outfits – I counted 13.
The success of this pantomime is down to every member of the cast, including the brilliant Seven Dwarfs and the very impressive chorus line, which is partly made up of local youngsters.
I personally can’t remember anything that I did not like about this pantomime – a genuine must see.
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