SNOW White is the first pantomime at The Grand for many a year that has actually been written, designed, built and directed as a totally in-house production – and it really is a winner!
From the moment you walk into the auditorium the enchantment begins – designer David Shields has transformed the stage from wall to wall into a land of seasonal fantasy. It sparkles, it shimmers – and it snows!
Set in a fairytale version of the Black Country with Wolverhamptania at the epicenter, there’s Dudley Castle with a courtyard where skaters cavort on a frozen lake, a throne room glistening with diamonds lit by candlelight – and a magic room with a giant mirror, complete with 21st century avatar to keep the Wicked Queen Dragonella informed of Snow White’s whereabouts.
Outside the castle walls lies a forest with a cottage where the seven dwarfs – cleverly named The Peaky Miners – reside and upstage there’s a special stage-within-a-stage where the fabulous big orchestra (kitted out like elves) plays with joyful exuberance.
Shields has also designed every single costume and my word, there is enough to fill Harvey Nicks and then some – each one seemed more stunning than the last.
The Grand has a real star in its’ Chief Executive Adrian Jackson who is also Artistic Director for the theatre and Musical Director for Snow White. It is his vision that has launched this new in-house era.
Panto professionals Ian Adams and Tam Ryan have written the script – Adams also plays the Dame Nanny Nolly and Ryan her son Muddles. Both are traditional in style and patter, with slapstick chaos and double entendre humour.
Sexagenarian Adams tap dances like a teenager – in my book he comes a close second to Sir Ian McKellen’s famous mother Goose Dame. Ryan hauls in the audience and tugs at the heartstrings with his thwarted love for Snow White.
Kelle Bryan and Niki Colwell Evans are fabulous foils as Good Fairy Elementa and Bad Queen Dragonella. They both have powerful singing voices too – full of soul and, excuse the pun, spellbinding!
Gyasi Sheppy and Evie Pickerill make the perfect, destined-to-meet lovers as the beautiful Snow White and handsome Prince William of Wombourne,
The ensemble must be the most hardworking crew in town – they dance, skate, puppeteer, sing, perform acrobatics – never pausing for breath.
David Janson directs with a third eye aimed straight at us, audience, engagement at its finest. Natalie Bennyworth’s choreography is sleek and unique whilst Robin Cousins brings some Olympian skating direction to the proceedings.
At the finale, the show certainly deserved the long standing ovation it received. This is not only the best panto I’ve seen at The Grand over the years by a long way, it also sets a very high bar indeed for any theatre in the land to better it this season.
It’s worth braving weather and rail strikes and any other obstacles to travel from near and far to see this Snow White – you may arrive cold and lacking in lustre – I guarantee you’ll leave warm and merry – Oh yes you will!
Snow White runs at the Wolverhampton Grand until January 5. Click here for times, tickets and more information,