“She can’t live with dwarves. They’re beneath her!”—Muddles
We heard great things about A Snow White Christmas, so we were excited to check out the Panto for ourselves at the Jeanne Wagner Theatre on Friday night. So we can honestly say to believe the hype.
If you’re unfamiliar with a Panto, it’s a musical show based on a fairytale with a bunch of modern/pop culture references thrown in. It’s also interactive—the audience is part of the show.
This Panto is brought to SLC by the Lythgoe family—directed by Bonnie Lythgoe, written by Kris Lythgoe and starring Nigel Lythgoe (So You Think You Can Dance creator and judge) as the magic mirror. “You’re all about the arts. You’re all about bringing families together,” says producer Becky Baeling Lythgoe on bringing the show to Utah.
The first time the magic mirror descends from the ceiling, the kids' eyes open and jaws drop. But unlike other shows that make the claim, this really is for the whole family.
The show follows the story of Snow White, with a few changes. The Wicked Queen (Margo Watson) is the queen of SLC. She’s hoping to marry the Prince of Park City (David Osmond). But the prince is hoping to meet and fall in love with his childhood friend, Snow White (Amy Whitcomb of NBC’s The Voice).
The character we see most often is the court jester Muddles (Jonathan Meza), who’s helping the prince find his love, along with Herman the Huntsman (Dustin Bolt). And of course, we meet the seven dwarves, all played by kids.
The cast earned their standing ovation. The interactions between characters feel natural. Nothing seems staged or awkward, except for maybe the mascot-type costumes with mouths wide open on the dwarves. We expect to see that in Disney on Ice, but for this type of production, we really hoped for something done with makeup.
Scenes to look out for, without giving too much away, include a dance-off between Muddles and a young dancer and an intense poison apple scene (even the grown-ups were on the edge of their seats).
The choreography and music might be the best I've seen in a family show. Songs include pop hits from Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Bruno Mars. Older folks are given a nod with hits from Huey Lewis and the News and Hall & Oates.
Other than Santa being around to greet kids and a few references to Christmas, the show isn’t very Christmasy. If you’re looking to really get into the holiday spirit, try A Christmas Carol at the Hale Center Theatre. If you want a fun family show—especially if your family loves dance, pop and fairytales—this is the show for you.
A Snow White Christmas is playing through Dec. 29 at Jeanne Wagner Theatre. Arttix.org for tickets.