Theatre reviews: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs | The Gift

Incorporating a flying Santa sleigh, a giant animatronic dragon and a roof-raising lament over the state of Edinburgh’s tram works, Snow White at the Festival Theatre has something for everyone, writes Joyce McMillan

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh ****

The Gift, The Studio, Edinburgh ****

With the King’s Theatre closed for refurbishment, it’s a late start, this year, for the great Edinburgh pantomime; but it’s worth every moment of the wait to see this spectacular Crossroads version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs take to the beautiful Festival Theatre stage, complete with a flying Santa sleigh, a giant animatronic dragon, and of course Edinburgh’s three huge and fabulous panto stars, Dame Allan Stewart, villain Grant Stott, and daft laddie Jordan Young.

Hide Ad
Allan Stewart and Grant Stott in Snow White PIC: Gary CavanaghAllan Stewart and Grant Stott in Snow White PIC: Gary Cavanagh
Allan Stewart and Grant Stott in Snow White PIC: Gary Cavanagh

As pantomimes go, Snow White perhaps has a little more story than most, as wicked queen Dragonella sets out to do away with her stepdaughter Snow White – who is about to take her place as most beautiful woman in the realm – and marry handsome Prince Hamish herself; and the whole tale is gloriously told in Ed Curtis’s production, which takes to the 2,000-seat Festival Theatre, formerly the Edinburgh Empire, as if pantomime had never left it.

The action begins with a team of seven dwarfs played by small people – once controversial, perhaps less so now – arriving on stage by miniature train, singing a full-throated Disney chorus of Hi Ho, Hi Ho!; and from there, the show belts along at a dazzling pace from palace halls and garden to woodland cottage, with the characters of the main plot – including Francesca Ross’s lovely Disney-look Snow White, and Brian James Leys’s finely-voiced prince – impeded and entertained at every turn by the daft antics of Muddles, May, and comedy baddie Grant Stott, who plays the wicked Lord Lucifer with the fine insouciance of a Leither taking on a bunch of New Town grandees.

Comedy highlights include Stott’s roof-raising lament over the state of Edinburgh’s tram works (to the tune of Michael Jackson’s Bad), and a gaspingly funny mixed-up message sequence featuring the fact that Muddles is one shirt short (“If this was the King’s, I’d be at the other side by now,” puffs Allan Stewart’s Nurse May, as she jogs merrily across the big Festival Theatre stage). Towards the end, this slightly longer-than-usual Edinburgh panto perhaps begins to lose shape slightly, and indulge in a few too many self-referential jokes. When the cast appear in their explosively pink and sparkly final walk-down costumes, though, the audience can’t resist leaping to their feet for a final blast of You Can’t Stop The Music from Andy Pickering and his fine six-piece orchestra in the pit; rounding off one of those joyful evenings when Edinburgh seems like a city born to party, and the Capital Theatres panto seems made to help it on its way.

In The Studio at Potterrow, meanwhile, Capital Theatres and Glasgow’s Barrowland Ballet present a gorgeous short show (for children aged 1-5) in The Gift, created by Barrowland’s Natasha Gilmore as an exploration of the idea that young children often enjoy playing with boxes and wrapping-paper, more than they enjoy their actual presents. Dancer Joanne Pirrie plays the central character, who is happily opening her Christmas presents when she discovers that her new toy car needs batteries to work.

While she waits, though, she starts to have fun with her huge pile of boxes, ribbons, bows and paper; and when one of the big boxes comes to life, she and fellow-dancer Rander Martins begin a magical exploration of the imaginative world unleashed by their games, falling into deep oceans, prowling through dark forests, and finally arriving at a glowing little snow-covered town made entirely of cut-out boxes. With a beautiful and playful musical score by Davey Anderson, The Gift offers a fabulous 40 minutes of brightly-coloured fun, with a play session on the snowy stage at the end. And if you want to know what “the gift” is - well, friendship, perhaps; or maybe just the joy of imagination itself.

Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs runs until 22 January; The Gift until 4 January.

Related topics: