Fri 17 Dec — Mon 3 Jan 22
My second Evolution pantomime of the year was at the Assembly Hall Theatre in Tunbridge Wells. The first had been one of the best pantomimes I have ever seen so I had to manage my expectations despite the fact that this production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was also written by Paul Hendy.
The Origin of the Fairy Tale “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” comes from a collection of Folk tales published between 1812-1815. Written and collected by the Brothers Grimm – Jacob and Wilhelm, it was first published in English in 1823, and illustrated by George Cruikshank (who also illustrated the novels of Charles Dickens).
Exiled into the dangerous forest by her wicked stepmother, Snow White is rescued by seven dwarf miners who make her part of their household. The beautiful and kindhearted Snow White charms every creature in the kingdom except one – her jealous stepmother, the Queen.
Hendy faithfully sticks to the well known story without resorting to gimmicks and unnecessary technical effects preferring instead to create a genuinely very funny script with several laugh out loud moments and many surprises including an internationally famous magic mirror and a Queen medley which brings the house down.
The cast are superb. Shirley Ballas is deliciously evil as the Wicked Queen if a little line rusty, Rhiannon Chesterman wonderfully innocent in the eponymous role with a stunning singing voice, Harrison Wilde perfectly cast as Prince Charming and Leon Craig suitably butch as Nurse Nellie – the bloke in a dress. There is also a terrific ensemble made up of Grace Beazleigh, Rosie Revell, Harriette White, Jordan Cork, Connor Parkinson, and Nathan J Stone.
However, it is Damian Patton as Muddles and in particular Cameron Blakely as Herman the Henchman who steal the show with their fantastic comedy turns. Patton is reminiscent of Lee Evans and it is clear both kids and adults adore him. Blakely is utterly magnificent; a cross between Blackadder and Max Wall and it is his character’s desire to perform a Freddie Mercury tribute act that culminates in the outstanding final scene that includes the seven dwarfs who were splendidly played by Isaak Dalglish, Jack Hilton, Paddy Holden, Stijn Keuleers, James Parnowski, Liam Roche and Brian Wheeler.
This is a top, top pantomime directed with pace by JJ Almond who allows the cast to maximise the laughs from the brilliant and innovative script. Evolution have cemented their position as the leading provider of pantomimes across the UK.
First class entertainment.
Reviewer: Patric Kearns