Snow White

Date 21st February 2014
Society Urmston Musical Theatre
Venue Urmston Leisure Centre
Type of Production Panto
Director Yvonne Bissett
Musical Director Neil Ravenscroft
Choreographer Sally Wild

Report

Author: Kevin Proctor

Urmston Musical Theatre kick off their 2014 season with one of the most classic fairy tales of them all; Snow White.  This particular version had been written in house by the shows Director which is always a gamble for any committee to rely so much on one person for the productions success, on the other hand, it’s also very encouraging to be able to present your membership with the exciting opportunity to explore new talents.

For me, the biggest oversight - script wise - was the lack of gags and humour, although you are indeed telling a story, it is a pantomime after all and panto’s need to cater for all age groups (not just children) which I think, at times, was forgotten.

The music chosen to aid the storytelling was a good selection and variety though tempos did feel rather slow on more than a few occasions and I cannot ignore that some of the keys were questionable as some of the principal numbers were clearly too high while others were too low.

The scenic efforts were an asset to the overall production – the artwork was very attractive and the light up trees was a nice touch.  Helen Halfpenny as the Wicked Queen delivered the villain character with force and seemed to be the most comfortable at interacting with the crowd. Richard Gaffney as Nigel could have afforded to adopt more of an energised physicality with comical facial expressions to help inject more life into his performance though I did very much enjoy his time on stage with the children from the audience which he handled very well. 

The choreography had been split across the cast by levels of ability which I feel could have been disguised a little better. The troupe of dancers held their own and clearly enjoyed their time on stage which was infectious. The ensemble need to physically energise themselves, several members of the cast (including some principals) made their time on stage appear to be such a burden, you wouldn’t believe from the lack of energy and enthusiasm in many of their presence that this hobby is something they’re choosing to do for fun! This is a panto; energy and smiles from the company are crucial, without those two ingredients you’re not really off to a promising start!

Megan Collier took the role as ‘the fairest of them all’; Snow White. Megan is certainly growing as a performer, the experience she is getting is proving very positive for her though I cannot deny that it would have been beneficial if songs had been chosen which suited her a little better (within her range and style) but she is evidently becoming more and more comfortable on stage which is very encouraging to see.  Sally Beaman as the Prince is a very competent performer, it’s a shame we didn’t see more of her as she was certainly one of the stronger players.

It was clear to me that John Walker as the Dame needed more rehearsal and commitment to this production, some Panto Dames are notorious for blagging their way through bits of the script but this is a knack that cannot be taught – you can either do it naturally as a comedian or not at all and sadly if you’ve not got this gift it’s quite uncomfortable to witness and only communicates to the audience as lazy – which isn’t virtuous to the individual or the production!

Some of the scenes were only short, however, the transitions into scenes took far longer than they should have done while we (the audience) were left sat in darkness and silence while we waited for the crew to complete the changes – perhaps some music or a creative way to disguise the changes would have been more beneficial to the overall flow and presentation of the production.

Undoubtedly, the stars of this show were the dwarfs. I was surprised to not hear a single ‘Hi-Ho’, instead the septet entered chuntering “If you’re happy and you know it”. These youths were an engaging bunch who each had their own mood and complimentary characteristics – all adding to the fun!