Writers: Jamie Smith, Nick White
Director: Gerry Tebbutt
Reviewer: Bill Avenell
If you discover a tried and tested formula that works well, why change it? That is The Yvonne Arnaud’s motto when it comes to panto and Gerry Tebbutt’s annual visit to Guildford produces another successful evening that appeals to the whole range of his audience from grannies to toddlers(including of course those Beavers, Brownies and their parents who so enjoyed it last night). Tebbutt’s direction of this traditional tale ofSnow White, doesn’t miss a single ‘device’ and with the help of his experienced cast maintains the energy and joyfulness throughout.
Once again this year there is no established ‘superstar’ and the production is all the better for this. However, Josie Lawrence as Morgiana the Wicked Queen is a very enjoyable villainess and her timing and the rapport she develops with evil side kick Herman(Guildford stalwart Kit Hesketh-Harvey) is central to the success of the evening. Another Yvonne Arnaud regular, Jamie Brook, also contributes a great deal. As Muddles, he gives the now expected high energy master class in how to play the panto ‘continuity’ character, sparking an instant relationship with children, adults and his colleagues on stage. The rest of the Cast is strong too. Peter Gordon (also a member of the YA panto family) may not be an in-your-face dame in the traditional sense but he too develops a good partnership with Hesketh-Harvey and Brook. There is a complete set of dwarves deep in the forest and it is particularly enjoyable to have a prince given a bit more to do than just make eyes at Snow White. In this regard Peter Dukes, if not exactly your ‘principal boy’ as Prince Christopher, is a very able participant in the slapstick. Another interesting innovation is to have an adult helper from the audience as well as the normal minors and where else but in Guildford to find a banker!
The music is a bit low key, although to be fair the audience joined in enthusiastically, and it is a shame not to see the musicians in the pit; the video mirror, even with June Whitfield, always slows it down; but Jamie Attle’s bright and colourful costumes and a good lighting plot from John Harris help to make up for any deficiencies in the creative field.
If you want big name stars and full volume singing numbers then don’t go to Guildford, but if you want a panto with all the trimmings, loads of colour and vivacity, a thoroughly friendly and comfortable feel to it and a jolly good show with something for everyone in your party then The Yvonne Arnaud is certainly the place to be this Christmas.
Snow White runs at The Yvonne Arnaud in Guildford until Sunday 4thth January 2015