Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs

Date 15th January 2016
Society Cobham Players
Venue Cobham Village Hall
Type of Production Panto
Director Alyson Pellowe
Musical Director Four Piece Band (Bad Apples)
Choreographer N/A

Report

Author: Jon Fox

Though a lifelong Pantomime devotee,  I had not come across this particular and highly effective script before  which I thought among the better ones in Panto.  But it had one rather important weakness which was to under use the Dame part, especially as the Dame,  Dolly Dumpling was so superbly played by Jason Lambert, who was fabulous whenever onstage.  Of course, a company must choose a script to show ALL it's strengths and to give all the actors a deal to contribute, so this is not a criticism of the company, merely a pity  from the traditional viewpoint of this  reviewer who loves good Panto Dames.

Cobham Players though have a host of  experienced players who clearly relish and put on top quality Panto, as this production amply proved.  I was thrilled to see such a stage struck nine year old, clearly destined for great roles in the future, playing the "L " plated Fairy Goodheart.  To team her with a far more experienced mentor fairy,  Wonderwings, with Zimmer frame was a stroke of inspired casting. Darcey Abel, and Hilary Jones respectively  were a terrific team, triumphant over evil in the finest tradition.

The sinister stage left evil crew were more numerous, comprising  Paula MacArthur as Queen Caligula, once the fairest in the land but alas, no more, along with  Graham Budd as Blackwing the crow. Aiding and "incompetently" abetting the Queen were two gifted comic players, Phil Paul as Bogwart and Karen Budd as Stinkwort.  Paula was marvellous, treading with dexterity the difficult balance between vanity, cattiness and more  obvious evil. The mirror scene was well done with the voice of Alex Smith as Speak True bringing the "bad news" that Queen  Caligula was no longer the fairest in the land.  Graham  was also top class; he possesses marvellous diction and timing.

Now to the Dumplings, so to speak -well this IS Panto- Dolly Dumpling the Dame and her idiot son Danny Dumpling.   Mary Taylor possesses wonderful stage presence and is a highly talented actress  and used all her many skills to great effect as Danny in this pivotal role.  Together with "Mum" Dolly they were the cornerstones of this production.

Snow White, played by Helen Dixon was very pretty, as is vital in this of all pantomimes and with her goodness personified charm, grace and good diction she was extremely well cast, giving a top level performance.   Lauren Budd as the handsome Prince Frederick also did well,  though clearly less experienced and had great legs in true principal boy tradition, which she slapped in the time honoured fashion .   Helen and Lauren made a fine pair in roles where many others struggle to make two real girls believable as sweethearts.

The Seven Dwarfs were delightfully and charmingly played by seven cute children, six girls and one boy.   The director skilfully gave them all very differing  personalities and eye catching make up which they all played to the hilt.   They are; Darcy Pellowe,  Flynn MacArthur,  Izzy Creasey,  Ruby Acquaye,  Serena Browne,  Lottie Smith and  Mia Morris.   I do think they all deserved their individual dwarf names to be in the programme;  that means so much to all performers of whatever age!   To see them welcoming the pre-show audience was a good decision and something they will long remember.

The production generally had energy, pace and much comedy abounded.   The young fairy  stole the show for me, dressed prettily in pink and she loved every moment, which we could all tell.   Splendid!

Costumes were well  above the average village hall standard, with strong colours and were fresh looking.   Mary Taylor was also wardrobe mistress and together with Lucy Smith and Lisa Morris on make up and (presumably) wigs  played a key part.

There were some good music and song choices;  Love's an Open Door, You Can't Stop the Beat,  She's Got it Coming  and the energetic Finale to Reach for the Sky  all worked well. I also liked the dwarfs cleaning song with brooms, sponges, dusters etc.   The forest set was particularly good and the way the dwarfs cottage was used, with the Queen disguised and the tension built about letting her in or not!

"The Bad Apples", who provided the music :  Gill Pepperell, Nigel Goddard, Graeme Macfarlane and John Chamberlain were more like good eggs I thought.    Perhaps when and if Cobham Players put on Humpty Dumpty that would be their name!

Director Alyson Pellowe put on a top standard show for our great enjoyment  and I trust is proud of this sparkling production.