Published in The Guardian
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – review
It's rare to get a standing ovation at the end of a show these days – and it's almost unheard of for one to be given for an actor who's not even present. But such was the level of goodwill towards Gerard Kelly, who died at the age of 51 after a brain aneurysm three weeks before rehearsals of this show began, that the audience rose as one and applauded at the mention of his name. And this on a Saturday matinee.
Gamely taking Kelly's place as the lovable jester is Gavin Mitchell. "My name is Muddles," he says at the start of the show, wearing lilac half-length trousers, an unkempt blond wig and a daffy grin. "But, as a dear old friend of mine used to say, 'Hiya pals.'
This was Kelly's catchphrase, which he modifies to "Hiya gang" – a gesture typical of his approach to the role. By his own admission, this is a transitional performance (Kelly did the job for 20 years), and he makes this Muddles a familiar blend of manchild fun and foolishness, cheeky but good-hearted. He does a persuasive job, but it's not until the community song that he shows signs of making the part his own, bantering with the audience and showing himself to be a gifted comedic actor with a ready wit.
Elsewhere, the show is well plotted, with Barbara Rafferty's Queen Morgiana immediately establishing herself as a force of evil, and Pop Idol's Darius Campbell (formerly Danesh) looking – and sounding – every inch a handsome prince worthy of Julie Matheson's Snow White. The dwarfs are an amateurish bunch whose lines tend to get swallowed up, but what's really missing is a dame to add some raucousness to a show that's big on love and short on danger.
© Mark Fisher 2010
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