Another December weekend, another pantomime for the Hoopers. It’s a good job we love them so much. This time we had the treat of watching Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs at the Tyne Theatre & Opera House on Westgate Road. Although we enjoyed last years offering from Newcastle Panto Company, we were excited to see what new company Enchanted Entertainment had brought to the theatre. We were pleased that Charlie Richmond was back with his Geordie jokes and daftness as Muddles, but what would star billing Michelle Heaton (evil Queen Rubyana) and Matt Pagan from Collabro (Britain’s Got Talent winners) bring to the proceedings? There had certainly been more buzz on social media regarding this pantomime, and I really hoped the theatre’s gamble would pay off and encourage more people to give the oldest working Victorian theatre a go on their 150 year anniversary year.
The panto market appears to be quite saturated in the North East, but there is clearly an appetite as the Tyne Theatre was full at this Sunday evening show with lots of large groups of Brownies and Scouts in attendance.
Before the show had started, the Magic Mirror (played by ITV news Rachel Sweeney) to give the usual phones off, no photo rules. We really liked this modern touch and she would appear at intervals throughout the show via the mirror. In fact, the mirror (a large plasma screen) suspended over the stage. As the curtain came up, Snow White opened with ‘Footloose’ at the traditional village scene with the large cast of young dancers. The snowcapped glittery mountain backdrops were a great winter touch when Snow White and Prince Collabro broke into ‘Shut up and Dance’ one of the kids favourite songs.
It was Snow White’s 18th Birthday, but that was soon to be hampered by the Evil Queen Rubyana. Rubyana was determined to continue her reign of being the fairest in the land of Toonarmia. As Prince Collabro of Cumbria (see what they did there?) showed up and fell in love with Snow White, the plan was set in motion by the Queen to kill her off and marry the Prince herself.
Michelle Heaton really hammed it up (posh accent and all) as Queen Rubyana inviting boos from the crowd and singing a solo to ‘Venus’ to show off her vocal range. The Liberty X hit ‘A Little Bit More’ to tussle over Prince Collabro with Dame Dotty was another highlight, especially when Muddles said ‘I liked you better when you were in Hear’say’.
Dame Dotty Donut (played by Danny Posthill one of the finalists of Britain’s Got Talent) was a little wasted His impressions are pretty spot on (think Donald Trump, Michael Mcintyre). It was a weird combination of a man, dressed as a dame, impersonating many people of both sexes. Another mention goes to Lewis Denny as the Henchman. He worked well with Muddles and Dame Dotty as the third wheel in their comedy trio. There comedy song of ‘If I was not a…’ with the usual daft props and crazy alternative jobs. The twists in the song gave us several laugh out loud moments.
Richmond shone as the star of the show and excelled as the butt of the jokes.
Led by Laura Whitfield (some may recognise her from a reality TV show about panto dwarfs) the gang of dwarfs was a great addition to the show, adding humour and giving a real reason to root for Snow White. Changing the words of Madness classic ‘Our House’ to ‘Wor hoose’ injected a bit of energy and local twang. Some of the woodland scenes were a little long and drawn out and I wasn’t really sure what the Forest Fairy had to add to the story? All a little random.
Whistle while you Work
The second half after the interval really picked up the pace. The traditional ‘whistle while you work’ was given a modern makeover which I really enjoyed. As with all panto’s there was a happy ending and Snow White got her Prince! As they ‘prepared for the wedding’ Muddles invited up some children from the audience which always provides good laughs. My girls would never go up on stage so think the kids who take all the jokes and mickey taking are ace!
Soon it was time for the cast to take their bows at the wedding ceremony. The staging really came into its own here and really did look super professional and glitzy. Enchanted Entertainment seem to have managed to create a strong setup to follow on from the previous production company. The addition of local celebrities has boosted the offering although still comparable to last year.
For more information about this or any other Enchanted Entertainment shows visit their website