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REVIEW MAD Pantomime: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

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REVIEW MAD Pantomime: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

MAD Panto mixed old faces with new in their feel-good performance of the year, and it's only January! 

Review contributed 

If there’s one thing you can be sure of in January, it’s that the Malborough Amateur Dramatic group will put on a cracking panto. It never fails to raise the post-Christmas spirits, and of course the showcase of talent and fun in this year’s production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was no exception.

This year’s cast of lead characters included many seasoned pantomime performers with some highly talented new faces.

 

With her powerful voice, complete stage confidence and classic Disney-esque Snow White beauty, it’s easy to forget that Freya Harrow is still only young, but she’s been delivering great performances for MAD for several years now.

Her love interest was another seasoned performer, Annalese Murray as the Prince, delivering the attractive charisma of Hugh Grant combined with the camp caddish manliness of Terry-Thomas.

Another newcomer to MAD, David Sorrell, fitted in perfectly with the MAD family as Justice Quill, bringing an air of comic authority. Phil Shea’s misguided henchman Slurp makes me laugh out loud just thinking of how he somehow melded Quasimodo with Bottom; Phil’s comedy accents are always bang on the mark.

Rob Gidley played court jester Chuckles as the quintessential pantomime clown, complete with endless flatulence jokes, which I’m told the group of Rainbows in the matinée audience found particularly engaging. Also providing rambunctious comic relief was MAD newcomer James Richards as Edna Bucket, with a voice, flamboyance, make-up and costume worthy of any big-venue pantomime dame.

Though still in their mid-teens, Isla Murray and Olly Simmonds have been delighting MAD audiences for several years now, this year Isla with her quintessential beautiful gentle fairy, every line delivered with a sparkle, and Olly as Merlin of the Magic Mirror. Fortunately the Mirror didn’t manage to contain Olly’s talent behind glass for the whole show, as in the second act Merlin breaks free into the real world, using Olly’s great dancing skill to channel the spirit of Freddie Mercury to a tee.

In fact some of the absolute highlights of the evening came from the younger leads. Tabi Pearce’s Queen Avarice was played with the sort of powerful charisma and malice you might expect from an actor who had trodden the boards for decades. And Millie Richards brought her comedy scribe Scribbles an incredible array of facial expressions; Scribble’s absolute devastation over Snow White’s reported death literally brought a lump to the throat. Both Tabi and Millie have acted with MAD before but this year had their biggest roles yet; don’t be surprised if you spot them following other MAD alumni towards the big screen in future!

Of course, you can’t have Snow White without seven dwarfs, and the evergreen MAD stalwarts Jenny Wood (Brainy) and Jackie Plyer (Dozy) were joined not only by Emma Lyle (Smiley), but also by some actors who have been with MAD since they were kids, putting great enthusiasm into some of their biggest roles to date – Millie Prowse (Grumbly), Sophie 
Horne (Blushful), Abi Shea (Snoozy) and Saskia Cohen (Sniffles). It was great to see these actors’ energy and enthusiasm unleashed as they put their all into some great song and dance numbers, alongside plenty of physical comedy.

There were too many great supporting cast and chorus members to name individually, but special mentions must go to Will Murray’s scary yet cuddly bear, and Charlotte Simmonds (Sugar Plum Fairy) who always brings huge dancing talent, poise and professionalism to MAD productions.

One of the great things about MAD is the company’s ability to elicit such strong performances even from its youngest chorus members, with the whole chorus constantly smiling and engaged, perfectly choreographed and singing from the heart. Directors Jules McColl and Julie Cardrick elicited great performances from the whole cast, not by chance but through lots of hard work and careful planning. Beverley Adams and Clare Carter always manage to deliver choreography that treads the perfect line between being accessible even to the youngest, least experienced chorus members whilst looking fantastic on stage, and I don’t know how they do it. Gaby Kavanagh has her hands full with a new baby this year but still found time for vocal coaching which helped the cast deliver such great performances in the musical numbers.

The stage looked as good as it ever has, with Greg Taylor taking over the role of stage manager from Lin Rowe, who could relax a little in the green room in the company of all the props, at last! Greg’s scenery, props and setbuilding team delivered an aesthetic which perfectly complimented the stunning costumes and make-up, which really excelled themselves this year.

Andy Morgan and Luke Adams oversaw some really innovative lighting, more akin to what you’d expect from the West End than in a Devon village hall! And Claire Tapper and Ben Sinnott worked their magic on the sound, even dealing with a mic pack being dropped down the toilet (you know who you are) just minutes before curtain up!

I overheard some audience members on the way out grumbling about having paid good money to see a “professional” pantomime on a big city stage when they got everything that production delivered and a lot more besides in Malborough Village Hall. If you’ve not seen a MAD pantomime, you really should – the experience of the company and the hard work that goes into every production, overseen by much-valued showrunner and producer Jill Clarke, really shines through.

And even if you don’t think you’re a panto fan – oh yes you are.

Images credit to David French:

  • Caroline Sheard in audience
  • Chorus member
  • The chorus
  • Rob Gidley as Chuckles, and James Richards as Edna Bucket
  • Freya Harrow as Snow White, plus dwarfs: Jenny Wood, Brainy; Emma Lyle, Smiley; Jackie Plyer, Dozy; Millie Prowse, Grumbly; Sophie Horne, Blushful; Abi Shea, Snoozy; Saskia Cohen, Sniffle
  • Emma Lyle, Smiley; Will Murray, King; Julie Thomas, Queen; Jackie Plyer, Dozy
  • Chorus members plus Freya Harrow as Snow White 

Photos

REVIEW MAD Pantomime: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
REVIEW MAD Pantomime: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
REVIEW MAD Pantomime: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
REVIEW MAD Pantomime: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
REVIEW MAD Pantomime: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
REVIEW MAD Pantomime: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

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