Birmingham Hippodrome Launches 2013/14 Pantomime, SNOW WHITE & THE SEVEN DWARVES
With only 92 shopping days until Christmas, that means it's only 86 days until the opening of Britain's biggest pantomime at Birmingham Hippodrome. This was kindly reinforced to us by Michael Harrison, the Managing Director of the pantomime division at Qdos Entertainment and ultimately the Director of this year's Snow White and the Seven Dwarves at the venue. A frightening thought for many but not for pantomime lovers!
This year's starring cast is bigger and better than ever. For the past three successive years, Brian Conley has led the company to great success. Whilst Conley takes last year's Robinson Crusoe to Southampton's Mayflower Theatre, we have an incredibly exciting new cast here in Birmingham featuring John Partridge, Gok Wan, Stephanie Beacham, Gary Wilmot, Paul Zerdin, Matt Slack and Danielle Hope.
Looking dashing in gold, a clean cut John Partridge looks more than at home surrounded by Snow White's cottage complete with seven dwarf sized beds. Relaxed with all the media attention at this morning's launch, Partridge tells us this will be his third pantomime and he is thrilled to be working back in Birmingham where he is exceptionally complimentary about the Hippodrome staff. Although known best to the general public for playing Christian in Eastenders, Partridge has an extremely strong Musical Theatre background; most recently completing his run as Zach in A Chorus Line at the London Palladium. Playing Prince Charming will no doubt be a walk in the park for him and he is looking forward to playing the romantic lead opposite Danielle Hope's Snow White, whom he judged in BBC's Over The Rainbow.
Making his pantomime debut as The Man in the Mirror is none other than fashion guru Gok Wan, star of Channel 4's How To Look Good Naked. Many believed Birmingham would just get a hologram but no, he will really be on stage at the Hippodrome throughout the run. Looking fabulous in a silver number, Gok told us he resembled a 'silver tampon' in his costume; a remark which Michael Harrison states will remain away from the children! Gok also said he only came to Birmingham for a Chinese takeaway and ended up at the Hippodrome looking gayer than he had ever looked in his life! He is very much looking forward to his first pantomime credit.
The Wicked Queen will be played by National TreasureStephanie Beacham. With a mass of TV and theatre credits to her name, she has also enjoyed two pantomime seasons at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre. The role of the villain seems to come naturally to Beacham and no doubt she will be able to stem some knowledge from her time in Bad Girls. On the flip side of the coin, pantomime veteran Gary Wilmot returns to Birmingham as the Dame. He has only played the most iconic panto role in more recent years but looks more than comfortable in a dress whilst flashing for journalists!
Also returning this year is the wonderful Paul Zerdin and his right hand man (puppet) Sam. Ventriloquism is no mean feat and very few can demonstrate with such flair and charisma. Playing Muddles in this his 17th pantomime, Zerdin is in constant demand and we are lucky to have him in Birmingham again over the festive season. Likewise for comedian Matt Slack, pantomime has been a major feature in his career - this will be his 14th consecutive pantomime for Qdos. As well as comedy, Slack also has a great career in Musical Theatre with Blood Brothers being a recurring presence.
Finally, our Snow White, Danielle Hope. She was the only unannounced member of the cast before today's press launch. Winner of BBC's Over The Rainbow meant a starring role as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium back in 2011; an accolade which in my eyes was hers from the beginning of the competition. She has since played Eponine in Les Miserables and has trained ridiculously hard to be in the position she is today; she's definitely no one trick pony! Hope is new to pantomime, thus marking her debut, and what better venue and company to do it with. Looking stunning as Snow White today, she explained how at primary school she always used to dress up as the character and therefore it only seemed right that the role would come round in her professional career. Hope is also a great ambassador for new Musical Theatre, having literally just performed in last night's charity concert 'Collaborations' featuring the songs of Elliot Davis - the review for the recording of which was posted a couple of days ago. Watch this space, Hope is at the start of a very long career.
Professional work includes: War Horse (UK tour), The Lion King (UK tour), Spend, Spend, Spend & Just So (Birmingham Ormiston Academy), Godiva Awakes (Imagineer Productions), Wings of Desire (International Dance Festival Birmingham), Dick Whittington, Robin Hood, Aladdin, Cinderella and Jack & the Beanstalk (Solihull Arts Complex), Paul Daniels: Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow & Liberace: Live From Heaven (Assembly, Edinburgh Fringe Festival) and Little Shop of Horrors (Birmingham Rep Theatre).
Predominantly Midlands-based, Jenny is also a keen writer in her spare time and frequently writes for Whatsonstage Central. She is proud to be part of the BroadwayWorld reviewers' team.
- BWW Reviews: CHICAGO, Curve Theatre Leicester, December 4 2013
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- BWW Reviews: VAN WINKLE - A FOLK MUSICAL Concept Recording
- BWW Reviews: SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS Original Cast Recording
- Birmingham Hippodrome Launches 2013/14 Pantomime, SNOW WHITE & THE SEVEN DWARVES
- BWW Reviews: COLLABORATIONS - The Songs of Elliot Davis
- BWW Reviews: THE CONFESSION ROOM Concept Recording
- BWW Reviews: HAIRSPRAY, Birmingham Hippodrome, May 22 2013
- BWW Reviews: HIGH SOCIETY, Birmingham Hippodrome, May 14 2013
- BWW Reviews: MOMENTOUS MUSICALS Live Recording