REVIEW: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – the fairest panto in the land!

Photo courtesy of Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

Venue: Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

Performance Date: 05 December 2022

Reviewer: Gemma Fincher

Star Rating: ★★★★

Aylesbury Waterside Theatre can always be relied on to deliver a rip-roaring and riotous pantomime. 2023’s offering of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is no exception. This magical panto transports the audience into a whimsical world of laughter and enchantment, leaving both adults and children alike with smiles that linger long after the final curtain falls. The production masterfully balances humour for all ages, with jokes that appeal to both the young and the young at heart.

Under the expert direction of Chris Nelson, the script is tight, incorporating witty wordplay and the obligatory panto innuendos that has the adults in stitches. From Aylesbury stalwart, Andy Collins’ rapid one-liners to the dwarfs’ pint-sized punchlines, the humour strikes a perfect balance. The writers skilfully weave in contemporary references and twists on the classic tale, creating a refreshing and entertaining experience for all generations present.

Aylesbury Waterside always seems to nail the casting with each member playing off each other beautifully. It’s early in the run but it’s easy to see that this cast has excellent chemistry. Rhiannon Chesterman’s version of Snow White is largely spot on to the original, innocent, and charming which plays off wonderfully against Lyndsey Gardener’s Queen Grimelda theatrics, creating a delightful contrast that fuels the narrative. The dwarfs, with their distinct personalities and synchronised comedic timing, ramp up proceedings with their endearing camaraderie. The little swipes at Disney’s militant protection of their intellectual property rights also make for some ironic giggles. The ensemble cast’s energy and commitment to their roles contribute to a cohesive and captivating performance.

Leon Craig steps into the role of the Waterside’s Dame Dilly Donut, and he truly shines. His performance is like pantos gone by as he delivers a good old-fashioned dame-like performance, with his hilarious facial expressions, fine vocals, and comic timing. Eastenders actor and Strictly Come Dancing alum James Bye takes up the role of Prince Frederick and is charming and likeable in his delivery.

As ever though it is local celebrity Andy Collins as the hapless Muddles who steals the show. It’s obvious to see that Collins truly adores performing on the Waterside stage. He is the glue that holds the production together. It’s hard to imagine a Waterside panto without the hysterics of The 12 Days of Christmas and his hilarious interactions with the children he brings up on stage. Quick word of warning though, if you are sitting in the stalls, be sure to bring a waterproof jacket and / or a water pistol… you will thank me later!

As always, the interactive moments, where the cast engage with the audience stand out and add a participatory element and the Waterside audience never disappoint. Although this production is light on special effects it doesn’t detract from the overall enchanting atmosphere of the show. Musical Director Jamie Noar delivers some catchy tunes and Adam Scott’s well-choreographed musical numbers ensure plenty of toe-tapping and humming along.

Snow White is a theatrical gem that seamlessly blends humour, music, and chemistry among the cast. Aylesbury Waterside can always be relied on to enchant audiences with a timeless tale told through a modern and entertaining lens. This panto exemplifies the magic and joy of live theatre, leaving a lasting impression on both the young and the young at heart, with core memories being made.

Runs until: Wednesday 03 January 2024

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