A giant star of stage and screen, pint-sized Warwick Davis and his comedy sidekick Kev Orkian steal the limelight in this year’s lavish Milton Keynes Theatre pantomime, Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs.
As one of the best known and most loved of the Christmas season fairytales, panto guru Eric Potts has scripted yet another wonderful adaptation featuring seven hardworking dwarfs, a handsome prince, a beautiful young princess together with a wicked queen… and it all adds up to another cracking night out for the whole family.
Despite standing just one metre tall, Warwick Davis has starred in some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters while he’s also a regular on our television screens in shows like ‘An Idiot Abroad’ and ‘Dr Who’.
Warwick is a real favourite with the audience and is no stranger to pantomime in the role of ‘Prof’, for besides being the head dwarf, the 43-year-old actor is also Snow White pantomime’s director.
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Having led six other dwarfs in a series of musical numbers – including Monty Python’s ‘Always Look on the Broght Side of Life’ – Warwick then dresses up as a tiny Elvis Presley lookalike and sings a medley of hits which brings the curtain down on the show, his powerful and melodic vocals certainly surprising many in the audience.
The hugely talented Kev Orkian also gives a knockout performance as the hapless ‘Herbert’, the wicked queen’s put-upon ‘gofer’ – he goes for this and that! Kev returns to Milton Keynes following a host of rave reviews last year when he played Buttons in the new city theatre’s production of Cinderella.
A true all round entertainer, Kev’s rapport with the audience is apparent from the moment he first appears. Using all the traditional skills to get them onside, every time he makes an appearance there were shouts of ‘Hiya Herbert’ from ‘his gang’.
He is also a natural with the youngsters who come up on stage prior to the finale after they find a golden ticket in their show programmes. Trying to get a three-year-old to sing ‘Old MacDonald Had A Farm’, let alone get them to speak, is a real talent in itself but Kev has the ability to make a joke of every situation without upsetting them. He’s brilliant!
Swapping the West End role of French policeman Inspector Javert in Les Misarables is Shaun Dalton. He makes a dashing Prince Lorenzo as he tries to win the heart of the show’s Snow White played by pretty teenager newcomer Kate Stewart.
Dalton’s voice is typical of a polished West End performer and together with his leading lady, they duet in a selection of popular numbers.
The one surprise to me was that former soap star Jennifer Ellison manages to take on the role of a real boo-able baddie so brilliantly.
Despite it being her first ever pantomime, the lovely Liverpudlian lass – who has a permanent smile on her face when she’s offstage – takes on the role of the Wicked Queen with gusto. And judging by last night’s audience reaction, she certainly achieved it by the bucket load for she got plenty of boos and hisses right on queue!
Having found fame in the tv soap ‘Brookside’, mother of two Jennifer has recently starred in two West End shows, ‘Chicago’ and ‘Singin’ In The Rain’, although many will remember her television exploits when she managed to cut her own head open with an ice skate having joined the celebrity cast of Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean’s ‘Dancing on Ice’.
Set in the kingdom of Moravia, Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs is one of British theatre’s best known and traditionally loved fairytales. The seven hardworking dwarfs ‘dig dig dig’ their way through their silver mine while the Wicked Queen’s constantly consults her magic mirror to see if she’s still the most beautiful in all the land.
It’s when Snow White reaches the age of 18 that it all changes. A trick from a old hag (the Wicked Queen dressed in rags) sees Snow White bite a poisoned red apple and our teenage princess fall into a deep sleep in the dwarfs’ woodland cottage.
Fortunately she is awoken by the handsome Prince Lorenzo who is able to bring her ‘back to life’ with a tender kiss. And as tradition dictates, they all live happily ever after… all except for the Wicked Queen!
Full marks to the other cast members and especially the six other dwarfs – Danny Blackner as Loopy, Ray Griffiths as Sniffy, Peter Bonner as Cheeky, Warwick’s Davis’ daughter Annabelle as Snoozy and his wheelchair-bound father-in-law Peter Burroughs (Grumbly) whose own daughter Hayley Burroughs plays Blusher.
There is a great ‘Moravia’s Got Talent’ sequence by the dwarfs featuring acts like the dancing dog, ‘SuBo’ and the competition’s latest winners, Hungarian shadow puppet act, ‘Attraction’. Meanwhile Warwick Davis also shows off his Segway riding skills as he hurtles about the stage aboard the two-wheeled gyroscopic contraption.
Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs has everything you would expect from a glitzy Milton Keynes Theatre pantomime. The lavish costumes are truly amazing (especially Jennifer Ellison’s) while the sumptuous sets, great musical numbers and wonderful script keep everyone entertained.
The orchestra under the leadership of musical director Steve Power always hit the right notes on queue while the eight dancing Villagers and the youngsters from the Myra Tiffin Performing Arts School all go to make this pantomime a great family evening out.
Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs runs until January 12 and, if you hope to see just one panto this Christmas, then take yourself off to Milton Keynes… you certainly won’t be disappointed.
Tickets are available from the box office by calling 0844 871 7652 or visit www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes (booking fees apply).