Snow White by FHODS at Tower Theatre
Yes, it’s Panto season and having been along to review a couple of productions for the Folkestone and Hythe Operatic and Dramatic society this year I was once again invited along this time to their annual Panto. Those of you that know me will know I am a big advocate of panto, not just as a form of theatre but also because it introduces many young people to their first theatre experience. Panto is also something I have a great knowledge of having watched many and also performed in, stage-managed, written, directed and produced. Having experienced a few pantos by FHODS in the past I was excited to see their latest offering, however I have to say I left the theatre this evening rather disappointed.
My general view of this show is that the script was rather poor and the evening and plot really dragged with the length of the show being about 30 minutes too long. This was more than evident due to the fact that the audience was full of members of the Brownies meaning it should have been a good atmosphere but those around me were clearly getting bored and chatting among themselves and playing games instead of watching, only really interacting in the audience participation sections.
The second big let down in the show was Mike Nolan (yes of Bucks Fizz fame) playing the comedy lead character of Chuckles. The script was poor but I am not sure Mr Nolan would realise this as I am not sure he has read it. He definitely doesn’t know his lines, add to this the jokes which were not funny even by panto standard. The fact he didn’t seem to have bothered learning his script is even more confusing when according to the programme he was also involved as assistant producer. That would be fine but he is also listed under stage management, props, costumes, set design, set construction, graphic design, lighting design, sound design, musical direction, fly team, tech team and even playing drums, it seems as if he is a star that doesn’t want to let other departments have any credit. I think he needs to concentrate on his own performance and leave others to do their job. Thankfully the rest of the cast were not as bad, in fact some of them are really quite good and were just let down by the material.
Adam Button played Prince Valient and is a performer I have seen on many occasions over the years and is in my opinion one of the best-unknown comedy actors around and definitely did the best he could with what he was given. Eve Neilly played the title character of Snow White and while we did not see as much of her as you would possibly expect does prove to have a lovely singing voice. John Pritchard was writer, director and also played Dame Edna Bucket, fortunately he was much stronger in his onstage role than he is as a writer. The last of the characters needing proper mention would have to be the pairing of Doris (Samantha Burgess) and Boris (Graham Burgess), the huntsman and his wife, this double act provided some very much needed comedy relief in amidst the forgotten lines and dragged out scenes provided by some of the others performers.
As I have come to expect from productions at the Tower Theatre, the production values are generally quite high. The set and scenery was large and impressive over two levels (although from where I was sat anything happening on the top level including much of the Evil queen’s part was not visable). The costumes were of a good standard being high in both number of and colours. Choreography in the song and dance numbers whist being quite basic was very clean, synchronised and well performed by the small team of four dancers. The lighting was adequate, everything was
well lit at all times it needed to be although for some reason the flashing lights during the songs seemed to have no link at all to the beat of the music being played. The LED Frame lights that were flown in for one scene did confuse me a little, they would have been fine if they had actually bordered the stage but they didn’t so just seemed out of place.
All in all this was sadly a surprising let down by a company that normally puts on great shows, the joke line of “coats please” is often used by comedians in shows not going well however in this case the groups of kids around us were actually putting their coats on 10 minutes before the end of the show.
Review by Andrew Parker
To book tickets for Snow White by FHODS visit their website.