Review: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs @ Mayflower Theatre, 12/12/23


For a festive night out, you can't go wrong with this traditional yet contemporary take on 'Snow White'.

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It’s nearly Christmas, and that means it’s panto-season for nearly all UK theatres – and Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre is no different. 

This December sees ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ take to the stage, boasting the celebrity cast of Ashley Banjo & Diversity as Prince Ashley and the Palace Guards, and comedic TV legend Christopher Biggins as the fabulous Man in the Mirror.

Although almost ‘Snow White’ only in name-only, with much of the show featuring on the comedic side-plots of the hilarious Muddles (Kev Orkian) to the extent that they’re really the main focus, it’s certainly a magical evening for all.

If you’re not a traditional fan of pantomime this may well be the one for you, with Ashley Banjo & Diversity bringing a contemporary and electrifying element to the traditional fairy-tale narrative. Their frequent dance numbers often made a welcome change from the wall-to-wall jokes, setting them well apart from the usual caliber of dated pantomime “celebrities”.

Orkian felt like more of a host at times than a panto actor, frequently interacting with the audience in awkward but hilarious situations. A particular highlight was his and Diversity’s take on panto favourite song “Jobs” (also known as “If I Were Not…”), with the dance group displaying an impressive sense of slapstick humour. 

Impressive physical visuals wowed as Muddles flew above the Circle crowds in Santa’s sleigh, complete with moving reindeer. Similarly, Queen Dragonella (Rachel Stanley) put genuine fear in some of the younger theatre goers as a surprisingly “realistic” looking fire-breathing dragon emerged from the back of the stage.

Musically, the show consisted of a mix of songs from Disney’s classic 1937 animated take on the story, Christmas classics, and a bizarrely enjoyable take on Steps’ 2017 hit ‘Scared of the Dark’. While overshadowed by Orkian’s immense stage presence, newcomer Kirsty Ingram shone in the title role here, with her powerful vocals stunning the audience. 

Christopher Biggins was riotously funny in his Man in the Mirror role, with the panto hero providing a dynamic back-and-fourth with the Dragonella. However, upon leaving the theatre, there was a prevailing sense that neither were used to their full capabilities. Biggins remained stationary in the mirror for much of the show, only appearing for a few minutes at the time, while the focus on Muddles and Diversity’s Royal Guards meant that the the wicked Queen didn’t really feel that “wicked”.

While, of course, the panto audience is primarily there for the off-the-edge humour, a better balance between that and actual plot would be preferred. That being said, for a great, festive night out, you can never go wrong with a Mayflower pantomime – and this one is no exception.

‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ is running at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton until December 31st. Tickets can be purchased here.


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