BWW Reviews: Ross Petty's SNOW WHITE: The Deliciously Dopey Family Musical

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The holiday season is upon us! How do you know? Because it's time to take the family to Ross Petty's famous holiday Panto at the Elgin Theatre! This year, it's the classic story of Snow White...with a few twists!

The entire family will enjoy this show, as there truly is something for everyone! Classic fairytale characters, hockey references (at a time when Canadians are hockey starved), 007 himself, plenty of GTA jokes, and jabs at current events and reality TV. On top of all of that, there's some great pop music from the past year. Audiences are eating it up like a delicious poison apple!

Melissa O'Neil is back with Ross Petty Productions this year, and is perfect as 'Snowy'. Her Disney princess voice is spot on---which makes her powerful pop vocal performances feel like they come out of nowhere (in the best possible way). Of course, anyone who watched 'Canadian Idol' a few years back, will know full well that Ms. O'Neil has some serious pipes!

In a show with an array of comedic side characters, it can be difficult for the main character to carry the story, and still be as fresh and funny as everyone else. This was not a problem for Ms. O'Neil. The audience was experiencing this ridiculously entertaining journey with her, and was thoroughly entertained both by Snowy's reactions to the characters around her, as well as her own character quirks. She is very relatable, which makes her messages of 'believing in yourself' and 'fighting for what's right' seem like something that the many young children in the audience would take to heart.

Along with a heartwarming message, comes some clever humour. An odd combination, but one that Ross Petty 's productions are known for. Rob Ford certainly couldn't catch a break in this show, and this reviewer recalls at least three 'Honey boo boo" references as well. The writers and actors clearly have their fingers on the pulse of popular culture and current events. For example, a certain Ikea Monkey got a nice little shout out on Friday night.

All adult humour is inserted in a way that those too young to understand it, won't even catch it and those who feel that they are perhaps a little too old for fairytales and pop music (but who is???), will have something else to enjoy.

Popular music by artists from the likes of Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson, One Direction, and LMFAO, blasts throughout the theatre as the cast of characters sing and dance their hearts out. This reviewer came into the show hoping for a bit of 'Gangnam Style', and I was not disappointed!

As is standard with a 'Panto', there is plenty of audience participation, namely booing at Ross Petty's evil Queen, and a moment where a couple lucky audience members have a chance to help save their hero.

Hockey fans might notice something familiar about 'Ham' the pig, played by Reid Janisse. His colourful jackets, hockey metaphors, and overall loud and gruff exterior help fill a certain void that the NHL lockout has created. With Billy Lake's Pinnochio standing next to him uttering clever puns, and earning himself the occasional glare from his partner in crime, you almost feel like you are watching a classic 'Coaches Corner'!

As James Bond (that's right!), Graham Abbey is the perfect combination of suave, sophisticated, and silly. An actor known by many for his classic Shakespearean roles at the Stratford Festival, Mr. Abbey shows another side to himself and is thoroughly entertaining. Why, might you ask is 007 featured in a holiday musical fairytale? Well, as our narrator, Infestus the Fool (the hilarious Eddie Glen) explains to us, there is always a twist to Ross Petty's telling of Snow White...and the 7 dwarfs are usually the source of it. Past productions have included "Snow White and the Magnificent Seven" and "Snow White and the Group of Seven". It seems only fitting that to celebrate the 50th anniversary of James Bond, the audience gets to experience Snow White and double-0-seven!

As the villain of our story, Ross Petty unsurprisingly plays the evil queen to perfection. In his sparkly pink dress, with his mod squad of dancers behind him, he makes sure the audience is invested in rooting against him! Encouraging boos and jeers, and earning loads of smiles and laughs, Mr. Petty shines as always.

For the fairytale lovers out there, you can expect to see a couple more familiar faces. Jack the Giant Killer and Red Riding Hood, played by David Cotton and Bryn McAuley respectively, round out Snowy's merry band of fairytale friends. Mr. Cotton will make many audience members swoon...both with his strapping good looks and with his song selection. As Red Riding Hood, Ms. McAuley gets some of the loudest laughs. She brings classic fairy tales into the 21st century with hilarious results. Definitely a character to tweet about!

Another huge part of this show is its fabulous ensemble. As adorable forest animals, the evil queen's minions, and golden body-suit-wearing Bond girls (and boys), the ensemble keeps the energy going throughout the show.

All in all, the show is a hit! It's the perfect way to celebrate the holiday season with family and friends. When it comes to family-oriented theatre, this is certainly the 'fairest of them all'!

Catch "Snow White" from now until January 5th at Ross Petty Productions. For more information, visit http://www.rosspetty.com

Photo by Racheal McCaig Photography

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Lauren Gienow Based out of Stratford, Ontario, Lauren is a young professional with a love of theatre. Lauren enjoys daring new productions, classic plays, and everything in-between. She is particularly fond of musical theatre, but she also has a soft spot for Shakespeare, which she studied at the university level. Lauren holds an MSc. in Occupational Therapy and is a strong advocate for the benefits of the Arts to the overall wellness and happiness of human beings. As much as she loves to perform (she is an alto sax player in a local concert band and spent her youth working as a mascot), she also takes great pleasure in sitting back and enjoying a good performance. Lauren is very excited to share reviews and features related to exciting theatrical productions in southwest Ontario and the GTA.


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