John Morley’s version of Snow White has some sentimental value to this reviewer as it was the first pantomime I directed. Also, as fate would have it, for Tea Tree Players. Strangely enough, it is Sam Creighton’s directorial debut for the same company.
Creighton has done a fabulous job of capturing the fun, feel and spectacle that is that strange phenomenon known as Pantomime. His production is uproariously hilarious, stunningly colourful, flows smoothly – thanks in part to Damon Hill’s simple but effective set design – and is just plain entertaining to watch. Creighton has added a great eighties theme to the selection of songs which add even more to the fun. This feel is aided and abetted by Robert Andrews’ marvellous psychedelic lighting and Jo Alllenby’s wonderful costumes (as always).
Looking every bit the Snow White we all know and love, Michaela Phillips is divine, giving just the right amount of sweetness to every word she utters. As her Prince Launcelot, Rochelle Bartlett is everything a ‘panto boy’ should be.
Frank Cwiertniak (Marmeduke), Rhiannon Shapcott (Herman the Huntsman) and Danni Fulcher (Hagwort the Terrible Troll) all deliver good performances; with David Kinna making some very funny cameo appearances as the Mirror.
Hayley Mitchell has traded in her Fairy Godmother wings from last year’s Cinderella to show her wonderfully evil side as villainess Queen Evilena. Trust me, you do not want to meet this character alone at night in a dark castle parapet.
Damon Hill is his usual hilarious best as Dora Dumpling (complete with the world’s largest bosom); but it is young Caleb Bond who stands out, excelling as Muddles. His cheekiness, great Cockney accent, spot-on comic timing and innate ability to ad-lib brilliantly win over all audiences immediately.
Let’s not forget the real scene stealers and stars of the show: the seven dwarfs (all played by children). Henry Ravesteyn, Shannon O’ Brien, Shayla Mitchell, Gabby Taylor, Jack Phillis, Zack Brittan and Zach Bartlett are just wonderful as the little men – especially Bartlett, making his stage debut as Sneezy. To see these magnificent seven perform the song Living On A Prayer is worth the price of admission on its own.
It does need to be pointed out though, the chorus need to look as if they are having as much fun as the audience, particularly when performing the songs and dances.
This is an excellent example of a pantomime done well and definitely one of the Players’ best. Director Creighton has made an impressive debut.
Reviewed by Brian Godfrey
Venue: Tea Tree Players Theatre, cnr Yatala Vale Road and Hancock Road, Surrey Downs
Season: 21 November – 6 December 2014
Duration: 3 hours including interval
Tickets: $13.00 – $15.00
Bookings: Ph: 8289 5266