BWW Review: SNOW WHITE, Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock
This time last year was my first trip to the Beacon Arts Centre. While I knew the pantomime had an excellent cast (Still Game's Mark Cox and Jane McCarry) I was unprepared for how much the show and theatre would blow me away. After spending the last couple of months blindly recommending this years production of Snow White to anybody who asked me where to take their kids this Christmas, I went along to see if I was right to be so confident that they would produce another belter.
Jane McCarry takes on the role of the evil Sadista. The opening scene is Sadista having a conversation with her magic mirror which is a video recording of CBBC's Justin Fletcher- or as I gathered from the excited shrieks around me- Mr Tumble. Best known as everyone's favourite busybody Isa in Still Game, it is a delight to see her revel in being the baddie for a change.
Jimmy Chisholm returns to the Beacon for a second year, in the role of Nurse Mattie McBatty and is quite possibly the best traditional pantomime dame I've ever seen. He delivers his lines brilliantly and is always on hand for an off the cuff remark if something goes slightly wrong. His rapport with Mark Cox who plays The Duke of Argyll and Mattie's boyfriend is fantastic and it is difficult to tell what is scripted between the pair and what they have added in themselves.
The song and dance numbers are strong although they tend to go for older hits such as "Dancing On The Ceiling" and "Go West" rather than anything from the current chart. Personally, I preferred this as I am currently one pantomime rendition of Ed SHeeran away from completely losing my mind. Snow White, in particular, has an excellent voice and it was wonderful to see a very strong princess in Stephanie Falls because it is often a role that comes across as very weak.
I feel as though I'm guilty of namechecking every member of the cast in this review but I can't stress enough how strong a cast this is. I confess that the main comedy role in a pantomime tends to annoy me a bit but Lee Samuel keeps it fresh, fun and you can't help but love him as Muddles. Blair Robertson is also every inch the perfect handsome prince and gives a convincing performance while providing fantastic vocals.
The dwarves have been cleverly done for this production. Casting children (each group of children takes turns in performing and for press night we have the Strudels) wearing masks and using an adult voiceover was great fun and kept the professional feel of the show.
As with all good pantomimes, the audience play a crucial role. For example, when the Wicked Queen disguises herself as an old woman and Snow White asks the audience if she should let her inside the cottage a cry of "naw- she's at it!" comes from behind me. Upon capture of Sadista at the end of the show her captors ask what they should do with her now and a small child shrieks "KILL HER!". Welcome to Greenock! The boos and hisses are rife and it is impossible not to get swept up in these wonderful traditions cased in a brilliantly up-to-date show.
Snow White is everything a pantomime should be. It has a clever script, a beautiful set, a talented cast with the ability to adlib and best of all- affordable ticket prices. This production more than holds its own against any of the bigger pantomimes yet has all the perks of a smaller, more intimate theatre.
Snow White runs at the Beacon Arts Centre until December 31st.
Photo Credit: Eoin Carey