A dark, cold evening as January staggers into February, not much on the TV and the weather a bit grim – but if you go down to the New Forest, you’re in for a great surprise! The Burley Players will entertain you with their 2017 pantomime, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
I was interested to read in the programme as a packed audience waited for the show to begin that Little Snow White was first published in German by the Brothers Grimm in 1812, but the fairy tale of Snow White is thought to originate from the Middle Ages. Like many other Grimm tales, the original version was thought to be too scary for young children and so adjusted in subsequent editions.
There was only one question on my mind – how evil can the wicked stepmother be?!
The story begins with the Prologue, eloquently told through the Fairy Fortune, played by Millie Rees. This is Millie’s first principal role with the Burley Players and surely won’t be her last: her beautifully clear diction tells the audience the story and sets the scene for what is to come. This is followed by a lovely chorus number, ‘Colour my world’; like every chorus number, it is performed very well with lots of energy, good diction and beautiful singing. There were some tuning issues and first-night niggles with the sound system, but this did not dampen the energy in all the chorus numbers.
We then meet Snow White, played by Tamsin Fawn. Tamsin has a very confident stage presence and a beautiful voice and acts and sings wonderfully. The harmony in the duet, ‘How do I live’, performed by Snow White and Prince Ferdinand, played by Emily Newns, is beautiful and a true highlight of the show.
Queen Avarice (Sue Trotter) is a very formidable character who encourages lots of booing and hissing from the audience whenever she comes on stage. As she plots how she is going to kill Snow White and finally get to marry her Prince Charming, she tries in vain to get her sidekick, Slurp (Bernie Guy) to help her in her quest for Snow White’s heart, but in vain.
A pantomime wouldn’t be complete without a dame, of course, and Tim Gaskell as Edna Bucket, the palace cleaner, is hysterical. The comic sketches between Edna and Chuckles, the Court Jester, played by Nicola Burley, are brilliant. I particularly liked Edna’s array of dresses.
Comedy abounds in this production. JusticeScribe, played by Paul Berry, and his scribe, Scribbles (John West), provide much humour as they get confused with all things technical, and relish the usual topical quips.
The Seven Dwarfs are all aptly named to include Brainy, Smiley, Blushful, Snoozy, Sniffle, Grumbly and Dozy. It is lovely to see younger members taking roles and playing them so well.
So big congratulations to the whole company under the direction of Sandy Simpson and musical direction of Pamela Berry. This is an evening’s entertainment not to be missed and proves that the village pantomime certainly is still alive and kicking. I thoroughly enjoyed it, left with a smile on my face and found myself laughing at some of the jokes the following morning!
Further performances: 29 January at 2.00, 1-3 February at 7.30, 4 February at 2.00 and 7.30. But hurry – tickets are selling fast.