Vying for the title of fairest panto in all the land is Birmingham’s version of Snow White. Birmingham Hippodrome prides itself on having one of the biggest-selling pantomimes in the country and goes beyond the norm to maintain that festive reputation.
Words: Alison Brinkworth
This year’s adventure is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs that has a long run all the way through to February 2, 2020 – and once again stars comedian Matt Slack. Slack, the Hippodrome’s secret weapon, returns as master of ceremonies for the seventh time with all the funniest jokes.
Alongside him, the one-time Bird Of A Feather Lesley Joseph and singer Joe McElderry are the main celebrity pulls as The Wicked Queen and the Spirit of the Mirror.
Playing Snow White is former Coronation Street star Faye Brookes with Jac Yarrow as Prince Harry of Harborne weaved into the famous story that involves ‘the Magnificent Seven’ dwarfs.
The show has moved on to Birmingham following a successful run at the London Palladium last year. Directed by Michael Harrison, the balance between the story and comedy is better this year with likeable Lesley Joseph at the centre of the action as the Wicked Queen trying to bump off Snow White.
Joseph and Slack have worked together before and have a good camaraderie that keeps the laughs flowing. What surprises is the newcomers.
Doreen Tipton, the Black Country comedian, is refreshing and hilarious with her deadpan humour and mannerisms stealing the show in many scenes as The Lady In Waiting, even alongside Slack.
Flawless hip hop dance troupe, who shot to fame from their appearance on Britain’s Got Talent, also impress as The Queens’ Guards with some vibrant moves. Their comedy scene when Slack joins the group for a dance is one of the funniest in the show.
There are some special effects but thankfully they don’t dominate the show. There are flying reindeers that totally enchant the younger members of the audience and a dragon, although it is a bit tenuous to the story and not really necessary as it doesn’t add much to the show.
A winter wonderland big song and dance sequence is more heartfelt and adds a gloriously festive feel to the performance.
Joe McElderry, The X Factor 2009 winner, leads most of the songs as his forte is his singing. Panto dame Andrew Ryan is slick on stage with some outrageously fun outfits, but it’s his 33rd year in pantomime and 29th year as a dame, so it’s no wonder he has it down to a tee.
Coming from London, there were efforts to make the show relevant to Birmingham, but adapting the Doing The Lambeth Walk song with Birmingham words near the beginning of the show seemed a bit lazy. It would have been better to pick a different song altogether.
That said, Snow White is very funny and hugely entertaining with Slack the heart and soul of the show. His slapstick comedy and rapport with the audience is once again a winning formula for one of the strongest pantos in the land.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs runs at Birmingham Hippodrome until Sunday, February 2, 2020. For more information or to book tickets, click here.