We received complimentary press tickets to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs for the purpose of this review
The annual pantomime at Cardiff’s New Theatre has long been a festive highlight for our family. In fact, even before we had children Cardiff Daddy and I were panto regulars, with him in particular laughing way more than any of the kids, and repeating the jokes to anyone who would listen for the rest of the year.
This year’s show at Cardiff’s New Theatre is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and once again, we all absolutely loved it. Read on for our full review or head to the Cardiff Mummy Says Instagram channel for a video reel.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the New Theatre, Cardiff
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the New Theatre, Cardiff truly is everything you could want from a pantomime – and then some.
It’s full of audience involvement from the get-go. We’re up out of our seats dancing, booing and hissing, shouting the classics ‘oh no it isn’t/oh yes it is’ and ‘he’s behind you’. The children in the audience are laughing out loud throughout and the adults are at times laughing even louder when the jokes edge towards the slightly inappropriate and go way over the youngsters’ heads.
We have the classic tale of Snow White (played by the serene Denquar Chupak, who we loved last year as Princess Jasmine in Aladdin, and who once again looks every bit the Disney princess) in love with her handsome Prince Carwyn of Conwy (Nay-Nay Gapomo – such an accomplished performer with the kind of vocals you’d love to have serenading you, I was surprised to read in the programme notes that he’s still in his final year of theatre school training). Snow White soon finds herself hiding out in the woods from the evil queen, who is not happy to have been usurped as the fairest in the land. Sian Reeves is Queen Lucretia and she is wondrously wicked, lapping up all the booing and hissing from the crowd.
We have The Magnificent Seven dwarfs performing some of the classic Disney numbers, plus a magic mirror, a poisoned apple… and a couple of twists in the classic fairy tale that play well to the modern audience.
And interspersed with that, we have the hilarious skits and sketches we have come to know and love from the New Theatre’s annual panto offering.
Mike Doyle is once again our panto dame, Nurse Nancy. This is his 32nd year in panto – I’ve lost track of how many years we’ve seen him at the New Theatre, but he’s as brilliant as ever. It’s clear we were not the only regulars in the audience last night because he doesn’t even need to explain his catchphrase – in which he says “Ariiigght” in his best Cardiff accent and we all have to reply with the same – before the audience are shouting it back at him. Once again, Doyle is absolutely hilarious throughout, and wears the most amazingly creative, colourful and flamboyant costumes which change with every scene. This man really is a local treasure and such an asset to Cardiff’s annual panto.
Ian ‘H’ Watkins, best known from the pop band Steps, and legendary Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas, aka Alfie, play The Spirit of the Mirror and The Queen’s Henchman, handily called Alfie, respectively. We’ve seen them both in panto previously and love the local celebrity connections they bring to the show. Both are essentially playing versions of themselves, with knowing lines written into the script, which the audience love. Expect a few musical numbers from the Steps back catalogue and Alfie showing off his muscular physique.
Adding to the humour as this year’s ‘sidekick’ is Steve Hewlett as Muddles, loyal friend to Snow White and son of Nurse Nancy. Fans of Britain’s Got Talent will remember Steve and his ventriloquism act from a few years ago. Steve is accompanied tonight by Arthur, his cheeky elderly gentleman puppet with a love for the local ladies and a great array of one liners. Steve is given the chance to showcase his talents with solo time on the stage, including a particularly hilarious routine involving a good-spirited member of the audience.
As in previous pantomimes, towards the end of the show we have a rendition of 12 Days of Christmas which is the very definition of ‘organised chaos’ as toilet rolls, rugby balls and giant leeks fly around the stage, but which is so expertly choreographed you can only imagine the rehearsal process to get all those comedy moments just right. It’s brilliant fun.
Age-wise, my children are now 13, 11 and 8 and have been attending the New Theatre’s panto since they were around three or four, which I’d say is a good age for a first panto trip. Sensitive children might find some of the villainous cackling and smoke-effects a little on the scary side, but there’s so much humour, glitzy sets and costumes, and fast-paced musical numbers that they will soon be distracted, plus we found explaining that they could boo and hiss at the baddies really helped them deal with the more menacing moments. The performance is around two and a quarter hours, including an interval of around 20 minutes.
Yes, it’s all a little formulaic but I genuinely don’t mean that in a bad way. In fact, it’s a good thing. Crossroads Pantomimes, the world’s biggest producers of pantomimes, have perfected a winning combination that works year in, year out, providing some absolute comedy gold and big belly laughs, awe-inspiring special effects (watch out for H on his motorbike), catchy musical numbers that will have you dancing in your seats, and entertainment that is perfect for all generations.
We loved every minute of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It’s traditional panto at its finest; a fantastic festive treat for all ages, which we highly recommend.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is at New Theatre, Cardiff, until Sunday 8 January 2023. For more information and to book tickets, visit the website here.