Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs * *, at Malvern Festival Theatre. Reviewed by Terry Grimley
Su Pollard belting out Screamin' Jay Hawkins' 50-year-old R&B classic I Put a Spell on You, even with specially-adapted lyrics, seems an unlikely showbiz prospect - but that's Pantoland for you.
At first I thought this was going to be better than it eventually turned out to be because it was so apparent that Ms Pollard was up for it.
Her rather impressively-delivered opening speech (of course, everything in panto is amplified nowadays) offered an eminently hissable Wicked Queen, and the audience soon made clear it wasn't going to be shy, either.
But it soon became difficult not to notice that this is panto on a budget. It may not be very far from Wolverhampton as the crow flies, but with the comparison of the Grand's Dick Whittington fresh in mind this did feel rather like like stepping down from the Championship to the Unibond League.
There's the same mix of Technicolor medievalism (additionally flavoured by the Disney film, which also supplies some of the songs) and middle-of-the-road pop, but sets and costumes are more rudimentary and what on earth is that material the Henchman's cape is supposed to be made of?
Anyway, this is the show that always guarantees work for seven actors of restricted growth, and members of the small actors' repertory company turn in performances which serve their purpose but are really more ho-hum than hi-ho.
Apart from Su Pollard the chief saving grace is Andrew Agnew as the court jester, Muddles, who clowns along in a particularly mellifluous Scottish accent.
* Running time:two hours, 35 minutes. Until January 6.