This year Welwyn Garden City’s pantomime has a new director and pantomime dame, so I was curious to see how this year’s panto at Campus West would fair. On a rainy December morning I took my seat next to my excited 4 year old, ready for this year’s Welwyn Garden City Pantomime… Snow White.
Straight into the action, Queen Weleena of Welwyn (Lainy Shaw) summons her magic mirror and discovers that Snow White (Francesca McKean) will become more beautiful than the wicked Queen. Snow White’s card is marked. Can Snow White rely on her good friend Muddles (Kieran Parrott) and Nurse Betty (Robert Forknall) to keep her safe?
Prince Benington of St.Evenage (Steve Banks) and Snow White lead the cast’s vocal performances and although the music this year isn’t as contemporary or recognisable as previous years, the delivery is accomplished. In this very traditional of pantomimes there were plenty of opportunities to ‘boo’, ‘hiss’ and join in with the action on stage.
And as the story goes… Queen Weleena orders her henchman Hertz Van Rental (Joe Sargent) to kill Snow White but when it comes to the terrible deed Hertz, Muddles and Nurse Betty can only banish Snow White to the woods, never to return… just don’t mention the poor cat!
In the woods, Snow White meets a band of seven strange men, played by the ensemble cast to an unusual voiceover, which includes an array of indiscernable accents. The seven dwarfs invite Snow White to stay in their home and although she raises safeguarding concerns, she agrees to the arrangement. Can Snow White really be safe from the evil Queen?
Act Two romps along with highlights of this year’s Welwyn Pantomime including the Happy Working Song from the Disney musical Enchanted and slapstick cookery from Nurse Betty and Muddles, which had children and adults in fits of laughter. I hope Muddles can make it through the run without too many bruises!
Snow White inevitably ignores the advice of her housemates and opens the door to an old woman with a basket of tempting fruits. One bite of a poisoned apple sends Snow White into a deep sleep, from which she can only be saved by true love’s kiss. Prince Ben of St.Evenage saves the day but it is Snow White who eventually chooses her happily ever after, in an attempt to update a story that has some pitfalls faced with a modern audience.
The show ends on a high with a rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas that leaves the cast exhausted and you can expect to see a water gun or a super soaker or two… or four. I would have loved more of a finalé at the end with a medley of songs from the show to top it all off but overall Snow White is good family fun and an enjoyable local pantomime.
My four year old thought the Welwyn pantomime was ‘so funny’ and he was captivated throughout (no wriggling here). There’s lots of action to keep younger members of the audience focussed on the stage and plenty of audience participation to get everyone involved with the show.
If you haven’t been to Campus West before, it’s a lovely local theatre with raked seating so you get a great view from wherever you’re sitting. It’s also small enough that you really feel part of the action but big enough to hold a good audience for plenty of atmosphere.
Snow White at Campus West in Welwyn Garden City runs until Tuesday 31st December 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit the Campus West website.
Disclosure: We were provided with complimentary tickets to the show. The words and opinions are all my own.