Hills Youth Theatre
Stirling Community Theatre
Until 14 Jan 2018

Review by Brian Godfrey

Pantomimes are not easy to perform. They require the main characters to not only advance the storyline, but to entertain and amuse the audience (all ages) and be able to control them by breaking the ‘fourth wall’ and conversing with them. That’s why adults usually play those roles.

Hills Youth Theatre need to be applauded for their latest production, “Snow White And The Many Dwarfs”. They took a big risk in casting the entire show with youngsters – and, for the most part, it has paid off. The Director, Peter Collins (who also co-wrote the script with Jean Collins), assisted by Di Mason and Sonja Zodrow are giving youngsters the chance to hone their skills, especially in an area that they normally would not be involved until later in life.

The Collins’ version is the traditional story of Snow White, but with the addition of ‘many’ dwarfs (12 all up) instead of the usual seven. The reason for this is a wise move, allowing for the fact that there are so many members of the Hills Youth Theatre – and it adds to the fun: the more the merrier! Also, top marks for adding a giant Aussie dwarf called ‘Bruce’!

The script and production show off Mr Collins knowledge of the true Panto tradition and ‘Dad’ jokes well. There’s even some salutes to Monty Python (Oh no, there’s not/Oh yes, there is!).

Zoe Muller is the perfect Snow White, making every little girl’s vision of the Princess come to life. She commands the stage beautifully whenever she appears. This is not easy, considering that for the most part she has to share the stage with Ben Proeve (Polly Pumpkin), Connor Leinweber (Cedric) and Riordan Miller-Frost (Magic Mirror); all three chew up the scenery uproariously and spit it out in the best time-honoured tradition of Pantomime ‘hams’.

Leinweber is the ‘Silly Billy’ or ‘Buttons’ of the show, having the youngies eating out of his hands with his very first appearance. This young man’s likability shines brightly in all his appearances. Miller-Frost plays the Magic Mirror as a cross between a campy Elvis come David Hasslehoff and is absolutely hilarious. But the firm audience favourite is Proeve as the true Panto ‘Dame’ (as it should be). He starts off uproariously funny but his very physical and hilarious version of Shania Twain’s “I Feel Like A Woman” takes his performance into overdrive and all around the Stirling Community Theatre. Very impressive for a teenager whom I assume has never done something like this before – keep it up!

With such an enormous cast (seems like over 100) it’s impossible to mention everyone without this review turning out longer than the Bible (and your muscles get a great work out applauding everyone at the end). But it would be a horrible oversight not to mention the twelve tremendous Dwarfs; Luka Bolte (Bossy), Jack Grosser (Smelly), Louise Guy (Sniffy), Georgie Eyres (Silly), Lottie Mumford (Snoozy), Harriette Wolff (Hairy), Lucia Lease (Lazy), Toby Vincent (Sneaky), Hugh Bellette-Jay (Clumsy), Francis Healy (Grouchy), Ryan Cream (Shaky) and Sam Reissnweber (Bruce)

With some great highlights from all, wonderful costumes and only a couple of spots that drag on a touch longer than they should, this is great family fun for everyone to enjoy - and on opening night we certainly all did!