Pantomime is back at the New Theatre in Cardiff and with another star-studded cast, led by IAN ‘H’ WATKINS (STEPS), SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS is about as traditional a festive show as you’re going to get anywhere.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s glamorous, glittery and packed full of mind-blowing effects, but this year it’s all about the laughs and the audience, and we can thank the departure of the dreaded pandemic for that.
We have it all on stage for a non-stop two hours (apart from a 15 minute interval) – a love story, singing and dancing, a baddie to boo at, fantastic costumes, which will quite literally dazzle you at times, lots of local references, and more than a few chances for us to get on our feet and dance and sing-a-long-a-steps.
First up – here’s what the audience thought of last nights performance. As you’ll see, there were all ages at the theatre, which is what makes pantomime such a traditional, must-see festive event. There was even a woman next to us who had her weeks old baby held tightly in her arms. Mum and baby loved the show too.
It’s always good to see MIKE DOYLE on the New Theatre stage, whether it’s in his own ‘Rock With Laughter‘ show, or especially in his regular role as Dame. This year Mike is Nurse Nancy, a tonic who will cure anyone feeling the winter blues. The costumes are spectacularly outrageous, so a great job to DANIAL THATCHER and the entire wardrobe team.
Think a Cardiff Panto and Mike really is what it’s all about. All the kids, from 6 to 60, we’re loving the gags, scripted and a few off book too I reckon. He is loud and funny and an absolutely joy to watch.
DENQUAR CHUPAK makes a welcome return to the New Theatre stepping into the titular role of Snow White. If you saw Aladdin last year you’ll know Denquar from her Jasmine role with, alongside Gareth Gates. With a new Prince on the scene, played by NAY-NAY GAPOMO they make a perfect romantic panto pairing, throwing a new twist on this 210 year old fairytale classic.
Traditionally Snow White has a best friend, and while that is the case this year with STEVE HEWLETT playing Muddles, we also get a another thrown into the mix with ‘Arthur’. Steve is a ventriloquist, who you may have seen on Britain’s Got Talent back in 2013, and comes armed with a cheeky pensioner, who has an eye for a Cardiff lady.
For many kids in the audience this would have been their first experience of a live ventriloquist act, and I can tell you, with Steve they weren’t disappointed. He is smooth and funny, and like most ‘vent’s can get away with slightly more cheek, thanks to his foam-filled partners.
Steve does a routine involving a member of the audience which will have you laughing out loud. Again, no spoilers, but the nice bit about this routine is that it will change with every performance, depending on who he selects and what their life entails. Steve is quietly a bit of a show-stealer at times.
And then of course there is local hero and rugby legend GARETH THOMAS who is back to the New Theatre as the not at all nasty henchman ‘ALFIE‘. There’s something about Gareth’s entrance on stage, we were all eagerly waiting for his appearance, and as usual he doesn’t disappoint, throwing every inch of his six foot three, ripped body into the part. I mention this because there’s a really funny scene where this is revealed, all the way down to his much loved gold hot pants. Think Magic Mike with a family friendly panto rating.
Pantomime is about many things and one of those is a good old boo and hiss when the baddie appears, this year it’s TV favourite SIÂN REEVES who is as delightfully wicked a Queen as you’re going to get, she also handles a bit of STEPS really well.
This is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and although the ‘magnificent seven’ don’t grace the stage that often, when they are there they do a great job of moving the story along and keeping the plot on track (with a very surprising twist).
What was a very pleasant surprise was the inclusion of a couple of the classic songs from the original 1937 movie. I have to confess to singing a little too loudly during those.
Which brings us to the star of the show, and the Spirit of the Mirror, played by none other than IAN ‘H’ WATKINS from STEPS. What is so great about having Ian in the role is that not only is his success international, with one of the biggest groups of the last 20 years, but he is Welsh through and through. He lives here, is a down to earth family man, and a great supporter of many things going on in our community.
You can see ‘H‘ was loving performing back home and revelled in the moments when he stepped into the audience for a little ‘pop star’ treatment too. He is a ‘smashing‘ mirror, and had us all ‘cracked up‘ when he was on stage with the other naughty boys (Gareth, Mike and Steve).
Of course, we all wanted a fair helping of STEPS and the show doesn’t disappoint on that front either. I loved that we were encouraged to get up and sing and dance along, which we did. My favourite part though was watching those girls of a certain age, reliving their youth, remember those carefully choreographed routines. It would of course be a TRAGEDY if we hadn’t been allowed to dance-along to that classic, and we were – and loved it
As I mentioned earlier, this year’s show is sprinkled with some lovely surprises, and a great twist on the tale. There is one number which bring the first half to a close which we leave you truly believing that festive magic has happened above the New Theatre stage. Without saying too much, it’s a magical flight into the audience on what I affectionally called ‘Chitty Chitty Bike Bike‘ last night. You’ll talk about it for the rest of the day, I promise you.
While the panto isn’t Welsh as such, it felt more Wales than ever, with a strong cast who brought their national success onto the Cardiff stage. This is also reflected in a lot of the script and routines, which are sprinkled with local references and more than a few Welsh props.
I really don’t want to spoil any of it for you, half the joy of going to pantomime is the element of surprise, and Snow White delivers more than a few of those this year.
The end routine, and something we’ve all come to know and love, is the very traditional ‘Twelve Days of Christmas‘ performed by Ian, Mike, Steve and Gareth. It is beautifully choreographed with the perfect amount of shambolic ‘ad-libbed’ fun from the four of them.
Snow White is a fantastically funny, festive favourite for all. With great songs we can all singalong too, superb sets and costumes which made us feel like this was a proper start to Christmas, for all the family. It’s fair to say, it’s definitely the fairest in the land.
Get a date in your diary before Snow White’s calendar runs out of space.
SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS is at New Theatre in Cardiff until Sunday 8th January 2023, with a variety of performance times and prices. For more information, or to book go HERE It would be a TRAGEDY to miss it.
You can also take a look at our MEET THE CAST SPECIAL – HERE.