Snow White comes to Crawley
3D effect ghosts, brilliant costumes and even a maths challenge are part of the fun at this year's Crawley panto
Picking up 3D glasses before the show really ramped up the excitement as my nephews (8 and 10) and I joined the throng for the first weekend of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at The Hawth in Crawley.
It wasn’t until the second act that the need for the prop was revealed, when the traditional “it’s behind you” ghost sequence was transformed with some impressive coming-right-at-you visuals. We all screamed as various spooky creatures got up close and personal. We even got wet at one point (and no, it wasn’t me emptying my bladder when I saw the giant spiders!)
It was the highlight of this year’s panto but joint favourite for the three of us was a pun-filled routine with a host of high street shops shoehorned into a story. I wasn’t sure the boys would keep up but the repetition of “Tess, Go – Tesco; Wait, Rose – Waitrose!” in the car afterwards assured me otherwise.
Snow White is a pretty simple story for panto and it’s a game of two halves with Dame Molly Mop building the laughs in the first and the antics of the seven dwarves taking over for much of the second.
One of the dwarves – Brains (Jite Ighorodje), has a real-life maths talent the audience gets to test, to the delight of my oldest nephew who usually enjoys taunting me with much simpler sums, knowing mental arithmetic is my achilles heel. Kain Francis as Loopy meanwhile performs backflips and dances on a hoverboard.
Hawth panto regular Michael J Bachelor does a great dame and even more impressively creates his own fabulous costumes. There are 11 in all this year and these are worth a show in themselves. Strategically placed jammy dodgers and flashing lights come into play and a rubber glove-covered cleaning lady guise is particularly clever.
Lucy Kemp is fantastic as the evil queen performing various rock-slanted numbers in the most sky-scrapping heels throughout. “Look at her shoes!” I whispered to the boys who, never having had to walk in heels of any form, weren’t quite so impressed as me.
Something else in the ‘impressive to adults’ camp was having deadpan comic Romesh Ranganathan – once a teacher in Crawley – as the face of the magic mirror.
TV presenter Stephen Mulhern from Catchphrase, Britain’s Got Talent and Saturday Night Takeaway is meanwhile “in the friend zone” as Snow White’s adoring sidekick Muddles so there’s some fun with game show elements and references to Ant and Dec.
Some quick-change illusions as characters swap into other guises add to the fun and it all builds to an ending with the audience on their feet for a Queen sing-along with a host of moustachiod Mercurys on stage.
There’s plenty of fun for kids and adults alike and some good modern twists on the traditional panto format.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is at The Hawth, Crawley until Sat 7 Jan, tickets are from £14 parkwoodtheatres.co.uk