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January 20 2019, Cinderella Trophy Reviews

The cast and chorus of Wayfarer’s The Snow Queen

With fifty years’ experience behind them, the Wayfarers’ Pantomime Society has tried and tested most panto stories. But this year, not only did they manage to pull a new tale out of the hat but a new director as well.

Alan Frayn’s The Snow Queen is very popular these days. Having watched six productions in the past year or so, I am naturally conversant with the storyline. So would the Wayfarers, with its reputation for top-class shows, come up with anything original? I was not disappointed. Sheila Driver was behind the wheel and directed the show magnificently and her professionalism shone through.

The team’s strengths outweighed their few weaknesses. The enthusiasm of the principals, dancers, chorus and TWYGs was very impressive indeed. The ballet and tap was memorable, the dancing was always slick and everyone moved well.

The show moved along at a steady pace but once or twice faltered. Late entrances can seem an eternity for an audience but thanks to the quick-thinking Sarah Lock as Blossom, there was only one thing to do – capitalise on the situation and get us all involved. Smart work, Sarah! On a separate occasion it was a shame that momentum was lost by a silent stage full of gypsies, tramps and thieves wondering whose line was next.

On the whole, the principals gave us memorable characters and these are a few which caught my attention:

Nigel McBrayne’s Gran was an accomplished, lovable and robust performance, having us on her side all the way. I particularly enjoyed the interaction with Dave from the audience which warmed to you as the show progressed. Your attire was wonderfully outrageous on every entrance. I’m not sure what Health and Safety would have said, but you rescued yourself admirably from the edge of the pit, even ad-libbing with a few A&E quips along the way. I should keep hold of that zimmer if I were you, Nigel!

For the second consecutive year, the talents of Jennifer Holland-Brewer as The Snow Queen rendered a performance which verged on the professional. You are an accomplished actor, Jennifer. You had terrific stage presence, crystal-clear diction and an excellent singing voice. A commendable piece of theatricality.

Hannah Carolan as Kai delivered a very confident Principal Boy. You seem a natural in these roles, Hannah, with fine diction and a beautiful singing voice. Well done.

Anna Howe as Gerda turned in a marvellous performance. You had a refreshing stage presence, Anna, with charming characterisation, perfect diction and ease of movement. Excellent.

With a catchy selection of songs, the musical arrangements were always impressive. Nice work, Matt and the band.

Sets, hired from Scenic Projects Ltd, made this show a visual delight. The snow machines captured those chilly moments but I felt you could have done with a little flurry on stage as well, not least outside the window when we were told it was snowing!

I loved the image of the camper van. Most unique man!

Gran’s confectionery store added another original and visual dimension to this show. Those of us in the audience with a sweet tooth must have craved the many Cadbury tubs and chocolate bars displayed before our very eyes. Maybe not the ideal scene to tempt those of us at Slimming World!

Costumes from Triple C contributed to the show’s majestic style and I felt make-up was expertly applied.

It was a great idea to have a bucket collection for the well-deserved charity Ups and Downs. It might have been more subtle had the dancers or chorus collected rather than the principals. The magic of pantomime should always remain on stage and not move into a theatre foyer. For this reason, I admire any principal who refuses to be in such a line-up!

I relished my pantomime experience at the Brewhouse this year and congratulate the Wayfarers on a really cool production.

As a polite observation, I have to mention I noticed that the SFD was referred to as a ‘federation’ both in your programme and on the County Stores’ window display. We are, in fact, a ‘fellowship’; also, Hans Christian Andersen is spelt with an ‘e’ and not an ‘o’ as your programme stated. Although these may seem minor points, they do make a difference to the overall professionalism of a production.

Nigel Ford

Moderator SFD