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SNOW WHITE & SEVERAL DWARFS (article first published : 2000-11-8)

Subtitled A Girl Who Drifted and produced by the DuMarc Music & Clothing Company, Snow White & Several Dwarfs continues the Playhouse Cellar’s adult pantomime series held over the festive season.

These productions, which send up the pantomime genre to hilarious effect and are definitely not designed for children, were first seen on the supper theatre circuit five years ago when Eric Hutton produced the first show, Sinderella. This was followed by Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty and last year’s Jack and the Big Stalk. The cast remained much the same over the years: Peter Court, Anthony Stonier, Norraine Swanby, David Hierons, Greg King, Heather Barclay-Whiffin and Carole Trench.

However, as many of these performers are now involved in other activities, director Heather Barclay-Whiffin needed to find new blood for Snow White & Several Dwarfs and it’s a delight to see new “adult pantomime” faces on the Cellar stage. Having co-written the script with panto stalwart Patrick Hyland, she has cast svelte Karen Campbell Gillies as the dizzy but streetwise Snow White and effervescent Clinton Philander clad in white spangles as The Mirror. Both Karen and Clinton appeared in Jack and the Big Stalk.

Fine comedy performers Kaseran Pillay (Sleazy) and Calli Denton (Lumpy) play the two surviving dwarfs – the others got squashed to death by Snow White (you need to see the show to understand how!) – and they work well together. The youngest and least experienced performer in the cast is Bryan Hiles who is just about to complete his drama diploma at Technikon Natal. Watch out for this young man – he’s got a good singing voice and can dance as well, confidently holding his own against his more seasoned counterparts.

While the whole cast is strong, the show is fairly and squarely Catherine Mace’s – at last seen in a production which shows her undeniable comedy, dramatic and singing talents to the full. As The Evil Queen, she is sexy, rasping, strident, conniving, extremely funny and master of the admonishing upraised finger! Where the power is hidden in that slight body, heaven knows, but when she wants to she can belt out a song to raise the roof. It’s Raining Men is a good example.

Karen’s I Can’t Take My Eyes off of You was accompanied by the delightful screened images of two amorous puppet squirrels on TV screens. It was also a nice touch to use all the “old” panto cast members in some form or another on the video clips.

Musical director De Wet Wraight has compiled a well-chosen song list that suits the cast’s capabilities. Gareth Kenna’s set and costume designs were light-hearted and glitzy except that I felt the final walk-down was a little disappointing and could have been dressed more outrageously.

For sheer fun and frolic with a little naughtiness thrown in, Snow White & Several Dwarfs offers a good evening’s escapist entertainment and is set to follow the sell-out runs of previous adult pantomimes.

Performances are Tuesdays to Sundays and tickets at R100 include a three-course meal. For starters there’s Paté Maison with an orange sauce which nicely offsets the richness of the paté or a well-flavoured Gazpacho. Main course choices are Chicken Cavan (crumbed chicken breast stuffed with cream cheese and smoked salmon) which was tasty but tended to be a little on the dry side or Beef Wellington which included a generous fillet set in flaky puff pastry. The delicious dessert was Chocolate Coated Strawberries topped with flaked roasted almonds. A vegetarian dish is available on request.

There are special bonus priced performances on Fridays at 17h15 and Sundays at 18h00. Book at Ticketweb or at the Playhouse. Group bookings of 20 or more from Sharon on 083 292-5324.




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