Sunday, December 4, 2011

review - A Snow White Christmas

A Snow White Christmas
written by Kris Lythgoe
directed by Bonnie Lythgoe
El Portal Mainstage
through December 18

In the tradition of the British Panto, brought so successfully to the Los Angeles stage in 2010 via Cinderella, the Lythgoe family return this year with A Snow White Christmas. British Panto, short for Pantomime, is an interactive show with music for the entire family and is based on a fairytale. The music incorporated is the latest craze, and the jokes used are always relevant to current cultural trends. The main goal is to bring the family unit together for entertainment.

In Snow White, the wicked Queen (Marina Sirtis) is to be hissed at and the beautiful Snow White to be cheered on to victory over the Queen's evil ways. The handsome Prince Harry (Erich Bergen) is out ot win Snow White's hand, but it is the Queen that wants Harry for herself. She talks to the Mirror on the Wall (Neil Patrick Harris, on film) who tells her she's the fairest of them all. Her faithful servant Herman (David Figlioli) stands by and another servant, the Jester Muddles (Jonathan Meza) serves as interlocutor between the audience and the story. He encourages the kids to boo the queen and to cheer Snow White, and thus the story unfolds. There are abundant jokes about little people ("Don't be short with me!") and about folks right out of TV and the headlines like the Kardashians. Songs range from Michael Jackson's "Thriller" to Katy Perry's "Firework" to one hilarious romp of "YMCA" by the 7 dwarves.
The cast is terrific. Sirtis is witchier than ever as the Queen, Harris has great fun with his facial expressions in the mirror, and Erich Bergen is all camp and suave silliness as Prince Harry. Meza steals the hour as Muddles. He is a fab physical comedian and a real treat to watch. Needless to say, Lindsay Pearce as Snow is beautiful and a triple threat: actress, singer and dancer. And, the 7 dwarves dance delightfully to the choreography of Spencer Liff. Michael Orland serves as musical director. Donna Maas has designed the beautiful costumes, and the gorgeous sets of the interior palace and exterior woods, many of them painted on curtains, go uncredited in the program. Kris Lythgoe keeps his book faithful to the original fairytale and director Bonnie Lithgoe moves the action along with lightning speed pacing.

This is great fun for the whole family and there's even a little sing.a.long at play's end...and a little white pony named Blitzen. Keep this tradition alive and keep bringing children into the theatre. Right on!

4 out of 5 stars
(in the lobby with Stan Mazin, entering the world of Snow White and the Young Miners' Cottage with the 7 dwarves)

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