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Review: The Snow Queen at Hertford Theatre

It's panto but not as you know it... This 10th anniversary show is a sparkling specatacle of high energy performance and dazzling sets that won't disappoint.

Anya Hamilton as The Snow Queen The Snow Queen Hertford Theatre photo credit James Leask Frazer area1photography

Anya Hamilton as The Snow Queen. Photo: James Leask Frazer

When you think of panto, The Snow Queen isn’t the first name that leaps to mind. But Hertford Theatre‘s panto isn’t just any old panto. Every year, they serve up a festive feast of singing and dancing which goes way beyond the ‘he’s behind you!’ style quips that might just be the teensiest bit predictable by now. (Oh yes they are…)

The Snow Queen is as frosty and fabulous as the name promises. The foyer is dripping with icicles and sparkle, so you’re in the mood even before you’ve found your seat.

The Hans Christian Andersen story of Gerda’s quest to rescue her friend Kay from the clutches of the evil Snow Queen is transformed into a journey through all sorts of familiar fairytales – the granny-eating wolf of Little Red Riding Hood makes a memorable appearance, as does the Old Woman Who Lives in a Shoe, Beauty (without her Beast) and loads of others. And what’s more, they’re all played – with amazing dexterity and a dizzying range of accents and costumes – by two actors, Katherine Victoria and Elliot Moore, who deserve a special round of applause just for all those quick changes.

Josh Dorn as Kay The Snow Queen Hertford Theatre

Josh Dorn as Kay. Photo: James Leask Frazer

 

As do the costume team. Seriously, steampunk-style magpies led the way – followed by a 1940s knee-socks-and-satchel aesthetic for Gerda and Kay, set alongside a Narnia-esque Snow Queen. The various characters along the way look like they’ve all stepped out of the pages of their various stories. And it all worked gorgeously against a stunning set.

The small but perfectly-formed cast is a selection box of goodies, with not a faded sort-of-celebrity in sight. And there are some massive voices in there. It’s not often in panto that the baddie gets spontaneous applause for her vocals, rather than booed for her wickedness, but the Snow Queen was hot. And Gerda? She’s tiny, but her voice is huge. Hertford panto is always chock-full of songs you’ll know, carefully tweaked to fit, and this year’s was stuffed with numbers you’ll know… A spot of Lady Gaga, bit of Take That, a big number from Wicked, a Steppenwolf classic, and a fabulous Hairspray favourite, and those are just the ones we’re still singing the morning after. The finale was a glorious mash-up of the lot, and another chance to be wowed by the spectacular singing and dancing.

The Snow Queen Hertford Theatre

Photo: James Leask Frazer

Hertford Theatre panto always has a great youth ensemble. This year, a selection of mini-magpies danced their wings off all the way through, shaking their talented tail feathers with just so much energy. The night we went, the littlest one looked like she was barely out of the nest, but she was right there in the middle of things all the way through.

It’s not your average panto – it never is. There’s just enough you’d be expecting to make it feel like panto, though – a bit of singing along, a bit of booing, and this year, even a quick appearance by a chap in a dress. Hertford Theatre’s Snow Queen is, though, the perfect way to start your festivities. Classy, clever, and Christmassy.

The Snow Queen: A Frozen Fairyale is on now until 1 Jan. Book now at hertfordtheatre.com

Words: Pippa Chappell

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