I have to say, if I’d known this show was a nearly complete rehash of the Wimbledon panto of two seasons back, I’m not sure if I would have bothered making the trip to Richmond to see it again. Jerry Hall is not my idea of a showstopper celebrity (mine are all actual actors), though the show itself was enjoyable. However, the jokes have been kept nearly entirely intact and an entire pastiche of Britain’s Got Talent that was witty (albeit at a panto level) two years ago is now as past its best buy date as if it were a particularly pungent set of French cheeses … from 2012. And what the f**k was up with them showing ADS before the show? If I’d known (and been free to go), I would have just walked the fuck out. If ATG thinks a captive audience means they’re going to start wasting my time with pre-show ads, I won’t be visiting their theaters again … ever. ATG YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
But as it turns out, you take the powerful acting talents of our height-challenged cast members and add a really strong wicked queen to the mix, and suddenly what you’ve got is a Snow White that’s actually better than the original. Jerry Hall is a natural as the Wicked Queen with a face only money can buy (at her age) and long blonde hair with that peculiar trashy texture I associate with heavy bleaching. Let’s just say she seemed very much a construct of magic. But she’s just what you want in a Panto baddie, with a rich voice, a genuine swagger, and a confident line delivery that makes it easy enough to forgive the fact that she’s not performing the singing live. Hall is also comfortable in the Anglicized dialogue: though she may be unsure as to what a chav is exactly, she didn’t struggle to say Chiswick and was certainly aware of what a football club is. Hall also had a lot of good jokes about her life (there’s a lot of tabloid gossip to cover) and seemed to enjoy herself – making her all the more fun to boo. And she rocked her slit-to-the-hip glittery gowns.
Unfortunately, if you’ve seen the previous outing of this Snow White, there isn’t a lot new here, as most of the songs are recycled (although Pharrell William’s “Happy” makes an obligatory appearance). But with the addition of a sparkling hot Wicked Witch, it’s now a panto with all cylinders firing, including some very on-topic jokes (the one about wasting time playing Candy Crush was especially funny) and first rate costumes and sets. It’s impossible to not enjoy the scenes with the dwarves, who represent a solid swathe of acting talent I feel honoured to see on stage. The highlight of the evening is still their arrival at their cottage to a medley of Madness songs (“Welcome to the House of Fun” and “Our House”) that made me giggle all the way to my toes. Is it good enough to justify the Richmond admission prices? I assume the answer is yes if you live in the neighborhood already: but for pure entertainment value, you’re going to get funnier and fresher at Greenwich or Hackney, and if you can travel, I’d highly advise you make the effort to catch these instead of this slightly stale production.
(This review is for the opening night performance, which took place on December 11th, 2014. It runs until January 11, 2015.)