For many children, their first introduction to live theatre is the annual Christmas trip to a pantomime. The show itself has to follow certain rules on content, layout and style in order to work and capture the imagination of its young audience. I say this, because it is essential to get all the elements just right and down at Hoxton Hall, they are ending their 2015 season by adding pantomime in the shape of Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs to the extensive repertoire of entertainment available at this newly refurbished venue.
In a kingdom far away, a tyrant queen by the name of Morgiana (Catherine Morris) rules her people with a fist of iron. Morgiana is a vain and self centered woman who needs constant reassurance of her beauty from a magic mirror. As well as the mirror, the Queen’s other companions are Dame Dolly (Marc Dehaney) and her son, Muddles (Sam Hoye) who is the general – if rather confused most of the time – handyman and who worships the Queen’s step-daughter, Snow White (Sarah Bakker) who is growing up to be a beautiful young girl. One day, the Queen has her normal Q&A session with the mirror but instead of saying she is the fairest of them all, the mirror – which can never lie – informs her that Snow White now has that accolade. Unfortunately, this change of position, occurs on the same day as Prince Richard (Rodney Vubya) arrives in the kingdom looking to meet and marry the most beautiful woman in the land. Highly worried now, Morgiana plots to get rid of Snow White and marry the prince. What will be the outcome of this plot and will the Forest Fairy (Suzie Smith) and her seven very short friends be able to save the princess?
This production of Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs was quite enchanting in its staging, with the lovely auditorium of Hoxton Hall a perfect location for such a traditional show. Writer Marc Day has kept all the elements of the story that you would expect, but added some lovely little references to the area in the narrative which got a chuckle from the audience as they were recognised. Director Karena Johnson has also added some nice surprises to the show – such as having The Forest Fairy be an Aerialist rather than the standard pretty young girl in a sparkly dress. The production also uses children and young people from the local area in the cast which really grounds this production firmly in the Hoxton area and made it even more charming to watch. Overall, the staging, given the limitations of the building, was pretty good but there was a definite problem with sound at times. None of the cast wore microphones and from where I sat, right at the back of the stalls with what felt like a million very excited children in front of me, it was sometimes a bit difficult to make out everything that was said. That aside, the audience really seemed to enjoy themselves and we all – yes even me – joined in with the shouting and singing with gusto.
The cast were pretty good all the way through, but my favourites were definitely Marc Dehaney and Sam Hoye as the Dame and Muddles respectively. These two were perfect pantomime performers and the children loved them from the moment they first appeared on the stage. Not only did they work extremely in their various scenes together, but they also interacted really well with the rest of the cast and Marc looked stunning in his wonderful over the top costumes and make-up. A panto dame can sometimes make or break the show and in this case, Dolly definitely made the show. Also, keep an ear out in the future for Rodney Vubya who, as the Prince, had a really great singing voice.
Well, to sum up, if you like a good old fashioned traditional pantomime with not only all the elements you knew and loved as a child but with a lovely East End twist, then Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs is for you. If you haven’t got an ankle biter of your own to take along then borrow someone’s sit back and forget all your problems and worries for a couple of hours.
Review by Terry Eastham
Hoxton Hall presents its very first panto, with an East End twist!
From the icy pavements of Hoxton Street to the magic of the Enchanted Forest, join us for a thrilling adventure complete with a wicked queen, handsome prince, hilarious panto Dame and of course Snow White herself.
Our seven dwarfs will be played by Hackney children from our Youth Arts programme, giving the show a truly local flavour. A high (very high) light of the show will be our aerialist Forest Fairy, gliding through the theatre on silks.
Expect lots of laughs, sing-along songs and plenty to boo, hiss and cheer about in this treat of a show which is sure to bring Christmas alive for children and adults alike.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Saturday 19th – Thursday 24th December | 2pm and 6pm | FROM £10