Review: Buxton Drama League panto brings the joy we all need

From the moment Elyse Marling enthusiastically bounds on stage as Labradoodle Noodle setting the scene for Buxton Drama League’s latest panto, the family audience at the Burbage Institute knows it is in very safe hands.

By Stephanie Billen
Monday, 7th February 2022, 10:26 am
Buxton Drama League's panto Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Buxton Drama League's panto Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

The Buxton Fringe Award-winning actor is just one of many good things about this exciting panto which returns after two-years of Covid disruption.

The Drama League is celebrating its centenary year and its experience shows with an accomplished cast including familiar faces Sally Shaw as evil, over-Botoxed Queen Malvolia and Peter Stubbington as flamboyant Dame Nutella.

This year’s story has been written by Martin Beard, who also directs, and it is good to see some twists to the traditional narrative, from the heroism of Dame Nutella’s pet dog (when it is not chasing rabbits) to a certain political edge as Snow White realises just how many people, including the delightful dwarfs, cannot afford to eat. Nobody has too much sympathy when Queen Malvolia’s tax-collecting henchman Boris moans: “How did I get myself into this mess?” after seven very cute highwaymen rob him of his money sacks.

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Buxton Drama League

The casting is particularly to be commended with Holly Howe perfect as the image-conscious Prince Leopold and Rose Maria Hunt making a sweet and sympathetic Snow White. Martin Beard is also credited with the set design which is more professional than ever with clever stage trickery making something quite spooky out of the magic mirror.

Lively sing-along song and dance numbers include You’re the One that I Want and, performed with particular gusto, Consider Yourself, not to mention the audience’s enthusiastic rendering of Five Poisoned Apples Hanging in the Tree. Despite the story’s element of stranger danger, this is a panto that delivers more laughs than scares with the traditional ghost scene brilliantly subverted and Dame Nutella’s cooking lesson (under the beady gaze of a poster of Paul Hollywood) degenerating into glorious mayhem as the custard pies fly.

With live music, brilliantly painted sets, inventive costumes and above all a large and dedicated all-ages cast, this was a great reminder that particularly at this bleak time of year, the show must go on!