Review: Snow White
Image courtesy Chickenshed
Cast and creatives
Snow White : Cara McInanny
Hector, her father: Jonny Morton
Stepmother Jane de Villiers: Sarah Connolly
Stepmother's Mirror/ SignerMirror: Ashley Driver
Jason - Security Guard: Nathaniel Leigertwood
Bobby the Buster, a mobster: Will Laurence
The Magnificent Seven:
Downer/ Signer : Sarah Jones
Soul : Darecy salt (Yellow Rota), Ramona Issacs (Blue Rota), Louise Connolly (Red Rota), Theresa Mante (Green Rota)
Achilles : Jack Hoskins
Soil : Alexandre Murtinheira (Yellow & Red Rotas), Jimmy Adamou (Blue & Green Rotas)
Sunshine : Kyra Ancona- Francis
Laughter : Nigel Spurgeon
Panic/ Signer : Bethany Hamlin
Magnificent Seven Groupie : Louise Reen
Roll up, roll up for a magical new musical version of a familiar tale - a mammoth production guaranteed to fill the festive period with heartwarming cheer.
Set in a colourful 1960s world where traditional roles are changing fast, what better place for a modern Snow White to 'find' herself - in all senses of the word?
An unbelievably huge cast of all ages, a stunning original score and with an upbeat message of how anyone can get to choose the ending of their own story - well, why would you go anywhere else?
If you're already getting nervy about organising the minutiae of your festive family dinner on Christmas Day, then spare a thought for Chickenshed and the audacious scale of their endeavours in delivering their Christmas show, which is now in full swing.
Whereas we amateur chefs might have to cope with arranging the catering for a handful or two of diners, Chickenshed have to marshal a cast and creative team numbering over 800 to pull-off their Christmas cracker of a production!
For this is inclusive theatre writ large as only this unique company can effect.
Each performance sees the same ensemble of principals fronting different rotas of around 200 supporting actors, dancers and singers which means, come the finale, there's hardly a square centimetre of space left on the generously-sized stage.
The sheer size of the organisational task involved in producing a show of this kind is truly mind-boggling, yet it's the essential nature of the company's productions: to offer the chance for everyone to be involved.
Now if scale suggests to you that corners might be cut to make producing the show more manageable, then think again.
For the other hallmark of Chickenshed's work is professionality - and there's oodles of it here right across the spectrum of theatrical departments in a production that simply screams finesse.
Chickenshed's artistic director, Lou Stein, once again has the directorial reigns, producing a modernised version of this much-loved fairy tale.
Mr Stein has woven into the fabric of his show ideas from across the Chickenshed community, so this is much more of a team effort than a simple glance at the credits might imply, underscoring the fact that the "voice of Chickenshed's young people is everywhere throughout the production".
Though the majority of the action gets transferred to the swinging 1960s, the basic elements of the story we all know remain - like the poisoned apple, the talking mirror and a wicked step-mother.
But the era we find ourselves visiting also offers some new characters - a group of disorganised drop-outs living in Scotland.
William Fricker's elegantly economical but highly effective set design picks-up on the mirror element in the storyline, and is dominated by outline shapes of rectangles and ovals, a pair of staircases and a zebra patterned floor that introduces a sense of movement as well as an air of mystery.
But the set is also carefully designed to show off some inventive costumes, not least of which are some glittering creations decorated with what look like shards from a broken mirror.
Musical director Dave Carey leads a top-notch band who weave their magic at the back of the stage providing the essential accompaniment to augment and support rather than dominate the vocals.
And there's certainly some fine work to relish in the singing department, in particular from Cara McInanny (as Snow White) and Sarah Connolly (playing Jane De Villiers, the stepmother).
The show opens with one of the best compositions I've heard from Mr Carey, which appropriately sets the infectious mood for the entire performance.
There's plenty more to enjoy from the composer further along in the story with some nice ballads balancing up-beat numbers to delight the audience as well as inspire the cast.
Signing is cleverly entwined into the proceedings, making it an integral part of the show rather than a sidelined adjunct.
And Andrew Caddies deserves special mention for well-devised, striking lighting design that, along with the fine setting, would be readily welcomed in any West End theatre.
Chickenshed lead the way in inclusive theatre, but it's their unparalleled craft in developing and managing an enterprise of this kind which is as inspirational as their fundamental creative philosophy.
Moreover, the production clearly illustrates the benefits on both sides of the footlights, with an intently focused and lively cast enjoying every moment of their time on stage, whilst providing delightful festive fun and a fabulous night out for the audience.
Christmas joy for all!
Links and related content
ActDrop listing for Chickenshed Theatre
Our show listing for Snow White
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