9 December to 8 January 2017
Reviewed by Jenny Bray
The Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield is situated in the town centre. It is quite easy to get to and is well signposted. The Lyceum is part of the Sheffield theatres complex that also holds the Crucible and some bars. If you park in the local Q park, which is a short walk away from the theatres, then you are entitled to your first hour of parking free. You just need to remember to ask a member of staff for a ticket to use in the car park pay machine. Once inside the theatre there is a drinks bar and a snack/treats bar to purchase things from before the show or during the interval. The staff also came round the auditorium with ice cream, lollies and snacks during the interval.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is Sheffield’s pantomime for 2016. I took my 6 year old along with me for this review. My son recognised Phil Gallagher, aka Mister Maker who was Muddles, which he was quite excited about!
The script follows the standard story of the Queen wanting to remain the fairest in the land so when Snow White threatens that she orders Snow to be killed. Snow is cast out in the woods rather than killed, encountering the dwarfs, then being put to sleep by the Queen’s apple once she realises she’s still alive, before being woken up by a kiss from the prince. However, it has several pantomime twists to the story, mainly including extra bits performed by Muddles, Nurse Nellie (Damian Williams) and Herman the Henchman (Richard Franks) including a whole section where they fit in 42 jokes about fish! The show starts with Muddles saying about how he loves Snow White (Joanna Sawyer) followed by Snow saying about how she hopes to meet someone to love soon. Prince Charming (Oliver Watton) then appears on the hunt for the fairest person in the land to marry. Queen Ivannah (Wendi Peters) is the evil step mother who keeps checking her mirror to see who is the fairest of them all. The mirror descends from the roof and is an on screen version of Michael Palin!
I hadn’t realised how musical the show would be. There were several songs sung by different cast members throughout the show. These included a great version of ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ sung by Queen Ivannah, who played a brilliant evil queen with great stage presence. During the second version of this song, which was set in the woods, the queen’s assistants are dancing round and one of these and Snow White swing round in a breathtaking dance that looked like it had come straight from an ice skating competition. At one point she is swinging round holding on to his neck with just her feet! The dwarfs sing a version of ‘It’s a Beautiful Day’ during their main appearance. Snow also does a mixed up version of whistle while you work to ‘Shake It Off’. Queen Ivannah also does a great version of ‘I Put a Spell on you’. Once Prince Charming has kissed Snow and brought her round from her sleep they both sing ‘I won’t give up’.
The dwarfs are Cheeky (Craig Garner), Sniffly (Krysten Coombs), Loopy (Kain Francis), Brian (Graham Hughes), Brains (Jite Ighorodje), Sarge (Andrew Martin) and Groover (Deano Whatton) and have a modern day twist on the more traditional dwarfs. Each has their own coloured costume. I liked the way that Groover was portrayed and also the comedy of Loopy falling over or being knocked over on several occasions. Brian was clearly the grumpy one. Cheeky gets to sing a solo to Snow about loving her but not thinking she can love him due to his size and not being able to reach to kiss her.
During the interval you are given 3D glasses for a later section of the show. After the interval, while Muddles, Nurse Nellie and Herman are looking for Snow they end up in a 3D forest hoping not to see a ghost. While they are singing ‘Always look on the bright side of life’ they encounter several different things, that all come out to the audience in 3D, including a ghost with a water pistol when someone comes round shooting the audience with real water at the same time.
Throughout the show Herman keeps mentioning to Muddles and Nurse Nellie that he has a dream about being Freddie Mercury and getting the crowd to join in with shouting ‘day-o’, which we do each time he says it. However, towards the end he, and the majority of the cast, get to do a Freddie Mercury mash up all dressed up as Freddie! At the end of the song all the dwarfs join in, also dressed up as Freddie, which is very amusing.
At the end Muddles gets the audience to participate in a sing off with lines from several songs including Bob the Builder and Teletubbies before the finale of the wedding set in the palace.
Nurse Nellie had an impressive number of costume changes throughout the show, all of which were varying levels of outrageous and garish. He and Muddles really brought the pantomime together and made it a brilliantly interactive show. It is Damian’s, who plays Nurse Nellie, ninth year of pantomime at the Lyceum! He clearly knows how to work the audience by now.
The stage setting was very impressive. There were several different backdrops and lighting changes sometimes highlighted different ones that had initially dropped down as opaque. There were also a couple of full stage changes, including one for the woods and one for the dwarfs’ house. During several scenes and songs there are backing dancers who support the main characters. In the woods they become animals such as mice and rabbits.
The show was definitely tailored to Sheffield. There were several references to the Blades and the Owls. There were also several occasions when the crew mentioned that you wouldn’t get certain things in a panto if it was in Rotherham!!
At times it felt like there were a few too many sections inbetween the Snow White story that weren’t anything to do with the story, like the fish jokes section and the Freddie Mercury mash up. These were very entertaining though. There was a good mix of jokes for children to understand and jokes that only the adults would get. Some songs were brilliant but during others you were reminded that it was actors and not true singers that were singing. Their acting was great throughout though and Nurse Nellie and Muddles did some funny improvising when including the audience.
The show is nearly 3 hours long, including the interval, so is quite a long time for quite young children to sit down for, especially if attending the 7pm show rather than a matinee performance. However, it was lively and interactive the whole time so kept my son engaged, even when he was flagging towards the end. It was great that it started at the slightly earlier time of 7. However, it would be nice to see a few of the evening shows start even earlier so that people taking young children have the option of an earlier show some nights too, like a 6pm rather than 7pm midweek start.
I rate it a 5/5 and would definitely recommend it for a great audience participation, fun filled pantomime suitable for all ages.
Tickets cost from £13.50 to £26 (booking fees may apply).
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is at the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield until 8 January 2017. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0114 249 6000.
Lyceum Theatre, Norfolk St, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1 1DA | 0114 249 6000