Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Strode Theatre, Street

weaselratfinkMATTHEW Maisey not only wrote and directed the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs that Glastonbury and Street Musical Com­edy Society are performing at Strode Theatre until Monday 2nd January, but also plays Weasel, half of the essential knockabout duo.

So it’s only fair to hand the biggest slice of praise to him, for his inspired words, slick presentation and comic timing.

Like all amateur pantomimes, this is an ensemble effort, with principals, dancers, chorus and backstage crew all putting hours and hours of effort into creating a magical afternoon or evening for the audience, many of whom will be seeing live theatre for the first time. There was one tiny babe-in-arms near me at the opening performance who was quite transfixed by the lights and colours and sounds, until it went peacefully to sleep.

Jess Stradling, who has played principal boys and girls, as well as many other leading roles, on the Strode stage, steps sensationally into the part of the Evil Queen, a Nigella-style beauty with a jealous heart and a truthful magic mirror (Judi Neale).

snowqueenGlynn Webster is a larger than life Nurse Nelly, hilariously supported by Amelia Chinnock-Schumann as Molly Muddles.

Mr Maisey joins Justin Hodge as Ratfink and Weasel, two of the dumbest and most incompetent baddies you could find in any panto. And in the leading roles, Niamh Small and Bethany Baker make Snow White and her dashing prince Artemis convincingly impassioned sweethearts.

Then of course there are the dwarfs – two teams of youngsters – and the excellent chorus of singers and dancers.

The music is especially strong in this productions, with powerful songs from the principals and enthusiastic singing from everyone involved, back as always by Tom Billings’ excellent band.

And there is a comedy routine in here I have never seen before, and Mr Maisey might consider copywriting, as it will be snapped up by professional pantos. Brilliantly funny, and perfectly done  Niamh, Justin and Matthew!

queenmirrorThe songs were well chosen over many decades of classic pop, providing something for grandparents, parents and kids hearing them for the first time, too. Well done to Sarah Neale for some tight and stylish choreography and Elspeth Salmon for training the singers so well.

It’s a terrific show, and only a handful of tickets remain.

My one negative observation would be that a follow spotlight might be an overlooked pantomime element, but you really do miss it when it’s absent.


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