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REVIEW: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Darlington Hippodrome

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Darlington Hippodrome

Until Sunday 31 December 2023

Darlington has a panto that has many of the classic panto elements with the sparkles of a high budget show. It is a real crowd pleasure thanks, in no small measure, to a brilliant comic performance of Josh Benson as Muddles.

Sharing the top billing in the show are Gareth Gates, who was recently in our region in SpongeBob The Musical, and Jenny Ryan from the quiz show The Chase. As a runner up in the first Pop Idol series it was no surprise that Gareth had opportunity to sing. More surprising was the reaction from the audience when he took his top off. Clearly the lad has been working out.

(As a side note… as someone who doesn't watch much terrestrial television,  references to SAS training are lost on me. A bit like the guy from the Coach programme a few years back, I'm as perplexed as the kids when they make the references).

Jenny Ryan is the evil Queen Dragonella who wants rid of Snow White in order to be the fairest in the land. Whilst she is probably new to live stage work, she gave it her best shot. Again there were numerous references to the t.v. show that she is famous for,  even using its theme music as her walk on tune. Of course, there is a quiz at one point which leads to some classic panto joke lines.

There are a couple of nice twists in this tale which differentiates it from most Snow  Whites in the country…but no spoilers here! Snow White (Marina Lawrence-Mahrra) is charming but, as often happens,  loses out in stage time to the big names on the poster that have helped sell the tickets. 

The Twins FX, who also add to the effects up the road at the Newcastle Theatre Royal are involved with special effects here too. There is one of their trademark “wow” effects that is used at the end of act one to quickly get Muddles back to the palace. It certainly had the desired effect on the audience who may not have expected it.

The show has the sparkling glamour in the sets and costumes.  In particular the Dame, Nelly Nightnurse (Jamie Jones) had some great outfits.

The show needs seven shorter people and the solution used is straight out of Shrek the Musical. At least it wasn't children wearing masks!

Snow White will have pleased many in the audience.  Muddles ensures that there is plenty of interaction with the audience and Jenny Ryan is happy to hear the boos ring out as she spells out her evil plans. All in all, Snow White was a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon in Darlington. 

Review: Stephen Oliver


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