New Victoria panto proves to be a festive cracker

WOKING loves a good panto and the New Victoria Theatre has come up with another cracker in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Headlined by television fashionista Gok Wan as The Man in the Mirror, this Christmas feast is two hours of wonderful fun, its top-notch performances, high-energy song and dance routines, dazzling sets and costumes, and spectacular special effects generously sprinkled with Gok’s undoubted charisma.

Gok Wan is starring in the Woking panto with Aaron James, Harriet Thorpe and Rebekah Lowings

From his eye-catching arrival on stage to begin the story to him urging the audience to their feet for the rousing finale, this is Gok’s territory. He loves the audience, and they love him too – and then some. His every appearance was cheered, his every move brought a delighted response. You can’t beat a bit of star quality.

Star quality for sure, but everywhere you looked there was a star turn. West End musical regular Harriet Thorpe was simply superb as the evil Queen Lucretia, also drawing on all her experience with the comedy juggernauts The Brittas Empire and Absolutely Fabulous. Supremely wicked in every sense.

But menacing though her queen was, her demands to be seen as “The Fairest in the Land” were brushed aside by an unimpressed Gok as she slid ever further down The Man in the Mirror’s popularity charts, a nod to Gok’s DJ skills.

Aaron James was brilliant as the hapless Muddles, Snow White’s best friend and hopelessly in love with her. He engaged happily with the kids in delightful bouts of silliness, and kept the grown-ups laughing with a clever combination of stand-up, impressions and skilful word play – especially in a glorious tongue-twisting episode with Gok and Harriet – often wrapped in the traditional panto innuendo that sails harmlessly over the kids’ heads.

Rebekah Lowings, who trained with Guildford School of Acting, and Benjamin Purkiss made an appealing couple as Snow White and Prince Harry of Horsham, quickly winning over the audience and bringing their own high octane to the dance routines.

The Seven Dwarfs were presented as The Magnificent Seven but remained as central as ever to the plot, providing shelter – and undivided loyalty – to Snow White. Not to mention the flashes of humour – “Follow me, I know a short cut” – and a distinctive version of You Raise Me Up that held the audience rapt as they serenaded Rebekah.

Top marks, too, to the ensemble dance cast who displayed limitless energy and imagination from start to finish, including providing the ghost that gave Gok, Muddles and Prince Harry such a fright in the timeless “It’s behind you” moments.

What more could you want from a panto? Nothing really, it was pretty much flawless, yet even then it had something extra.

That feeling of being back in live theatre after last year’s cancellation, of the often barmy panto rapport between audience and cast being revived.

As Gok thanked those at the theatre who had made the panto possible, and urged all of us who had had a great time to tell our friends – be an ambassador for the Ambassadors, if you like – you felt he had it right.

Go, get the feeling back, soak up the unique panto atmosphere again. You won’t be disappointed. And you can always say Gok sent you.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is at the New Victoria Theatre until 2 January

Recommended For You

About the Author: Editorial Team