Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Snow White

THERE are moments with pantos when you boo, hiss, shout, cringe, sing, cry laughing and dance.

And Snow White and the Seven Dwarves at the New Wimbledon Theatre had all these elements and more.

Boasting a star studded line up with the likes of Warwick Davis, Jarred Christmas and the King of rock 'n' roll's ex herself, Priscilla Presley, it ticked most of the panto boxes.

While it may have lacked a panto dame, it more than made up for this with silly, corny jokes, cheesy songs, a wicked queen, a prince charming and a beautiful princess and seven dwarves, one of whom is obsessed by British paralympian swimmer Ellie Simmonds.

It also had plenty of gloriously hammy acting, a few fluffed lines and a fair bit of add-libbing, not to mention the funniest Gangnam style dance routine I've seen on the panto circuit this season.

The costumes were amazing and the set was as sparkly as the stars in the show having had more glitter thrown at it than you would find in a children's collage set.

Priscilla was the wicked queen and although not always looking entirely comfortable in the role, particularly when hoisted in the air on wires and floating perilously over the stage dispensing wickedness, she delighted the audience with a rendition of Trouble from Elvis's repertoire.

Pacing the stage and sporting a fabulous dress which was cut to the thigh, she was adept at whipping up the audience with malevolent glee and attracted plenty of boos and hisses.

Jarred Christmas was hilarious as her right hand man Herman the Henchman and his attempt at a Geordie accent was one of the funniest things I've seen and heard.

Warwick Davis as Prof, self-imposed leader of the dwarves was brilliant and stole the show with his Gangnam song and dance routine.

But perhaps the best was saved til last when just before the curtain came down, the cast got the entire audience on its feet for a rendition of the Blues Brother's classic Everybody Needs Someone To Love. Fabulous!

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is on at the New Wimbledon Theatre until January 13.

Tickets from £10. Call the box office on 0844 871 7646

Aladdin with Lily Savage

FOR organisers, housing panto Aladdin in a pop-up tent within the O2 in Greenwich must have seemed like a good idea at the time.

However, with tip up plastic chairs on gantry style seating, a severe chill running through said tent and one bar to serve all 1,900 audience members this supposedly good idea must have vanished as quickly as Aladdin's genie appeared from his bottle.

Fortunately, the show has Lily Savage as its star attraction to warm things up and from the moment Paul O'Grady's alter ego came on stage, was greeted by a cheer as loud as the concert playing in the nearby O2 arena.

The story is a familiar one. Lily Twanky's husband has died leaving her nothing more than a launderette in old Peking. To his brother he's left a ring. Lily heads off to Peking with her son Aladdin in tow and it's here he meets the emperor's daughter, falls in love with her and tries to make the feeling mutual. Along the way he encounters the genie, gets locked in a cave and has to defeat the evil Abanazar, brilliantly played by Darren Bennett.

With lavish sets, spectacular costumes, fabulous musical performances and a big cast this was a panto which was as much about style as it was substance and the flying magic carpet was a highlight.

Lily Savage is of course the main draw and she didn't disappoint giving a hilarious mini stand up routine at one point, a few ad libs sprinkled about and an unscripted wardrobe malfunction which left her face down on the floor with her shoes in Abanazar's costume, and the rest of us and the cast crying with laughter.

However, despite all this, it felt more like a West End musical rather than a traditional panto as although most of the classic ingredients were there including a baby elephant in lieu of Dobbin, it lacked the main one for me - laugh a minute silly, saucy jokes. And at three hours it's too long for even the most un-fidgety kids.

That said, Darren Bennett along with Issy Van Randwyck as the Slave of the Ring and Jon Lee as Aladdin put in great performances and it was a real treat to see Lily in all her acidic, bitter, eye-rolling, hilarious glory.

Aladdin is on until Saturday, January 5.

Tickets from £19.50. Call the box office on 0844 856 0202.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Robin Hood at Greenwich Theatre

ANDREW Pollard has done it again. The writer, actor and now director and seasoned dame has put together another barn storming panto at Greenwich Theatre.

This year it’s Robin Hood and from the moments the lights go down and a version of Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer blasts out, the atmosphere is electric.

The next two hours zip by all too quickly jam packed as they are with plenty of gags, live music, dancing, magic, silliness, mayhem, and a fair few ad libs to spice things up a bit.

The action is set in Sherwood Forest – although there are plenty of local and topical references including an obligatory nod to this summer’s Olympics.

Robin Hood (Michael Harris) is hiding out in the forest with his band of merry men including Friar Tuck (Paul Critoph) and Alan McDale (Garry Ellis) robbing from the evil Sherrif (Anthony Spargo) and dishing out the loot to the poor.

However things start hotting up when he realises his childhood sweetheart Maid Marian (Arabella Rodrigo) is staying at the Sherrif’s castle with her nurse Joan Germoline (Pollard).

Pollard’s script is terrific, full of slapstick and manages to produce not one but three love matches, and his naughty naughty nursie is both saucy and silly.

With lots of interaction between the cast and the audience, amazing sets, outrageous costumes, a fabulous cast – particularly Anthony Spargo and his pet vulture – and plenty of jokes to please everyone’s tastes, this is a crowd pleaser of the best sort and proves that you don’t have to have big names to put on a great family show.

Pollard has once again set the bar by which other pantos are judged. It’s an absolute belter of a show and will have you laughing out loud way beyond Christmas.

Robin Hood is on at Greenwich Theatre, until January 6.

Tickets from £19, concessions £16.

Visit www.greenwichtheatre.org.uk or call 020 8858 7755