The North Carolina Theatre‘s Nov. 30-Dec. 1 and Dec. 3-8 presentation of A Snow White Christmas is the Lithgoe Family Productions’ follow-up to last year’s Aladdin and His Winter Wish Panto, which delighted Raleigh, NC audiences on Nov. 29-Dec. 2, 2018. A Snow White Christmas runs through Sunday, Dec. 8th, in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. Even though the fairy tale is aimed at children, it has the ability to touch the hearts and funny bones of people of all ages.
Panto is a British art form introduced in 1717 as a performance of a fairy tale using song, dance, comedy, particularly about current and local events. The Lythgoe Family has produced several different productions that have run in cities throughout the country. Raleigh is fortunate to have this this troupe back for another holiday show.
This story is loosely based on the classic fairy tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I use the term “loosely,” because this story adds a somewhat thin Christmas theme and uses a wide variety of contemporary music to further the story. Try to imagine a bunch of fairy-tale characters bursting into songs written and/or performed by Elton John, Hall and Oates, Huey Lewis and the News, Bing Crosby, The Village People, and Beyoncé.
There is audience participation in the cheering of heroes and booing of villains. This show, which is clearly aimed at children, spreads enough joy and humor to put a smile on everyone’s face. One technique that counteracts some of the more extreme cornball humor is the interjection of dozens of references to all things local and fun about the Triangle. Whether it is place names such as Dur-Ham and Dale-of-Knights or references to Duke vs. Carolina, the jokes keep coming and keep the audience on their toes.
The story is held together by Muddles the Jester, deftly played by Jared Gertner. Many of the main cast members may be recognized by your tweens as they have been in a variety of shows from the Disney Channel and similar young-adult fare. Michael Campion (Prince Harry), Olivia Sanabia (Snow White), and Garrett Clayton (Herman the Huntsman) were all quite good in their roles, particular Sanabia, who seemed polished beyond her 16 years.
The two biggest treats in the cast were Neil Patrick Harris (a prerecorded Magic Mirror) and Michelle Williams (ex-member of Destiny’s Child). Williams sang beautifully and powerfully in the role of The Wicked Queen.
My only minor issue with the production was near the end when a dozen “VIP kids” came onto the stage to be interviewed by Jared Gertner in character as Muddles. Gertner did a deft job of interacting with the kids, but it was a bit long to watch kids whose parents paid an extra fee for a $50 Golden Ticket to get a few minutes of fame for their children aged 4-12. I would have preferred that their VIP treatment came backstage after the show.
Do not be scared off by this being geared toward children. I sat surrounded by adults, and they all laughed throughout the show. Don’t be put off by the British Panto style. This show was very much contemporary Raleigh-themed. Don’t be put off by a holiday theme. It is a small, but very enjoyable and well-integrated part of the story. I mention these as they were my concerns coming into the show. I was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong on all counts. Please take your family to see this gem.
The North Carolina Theatre presents A SNOW WHITE CHRISTMAS, A Lithgoe Family Productions Panto, at 7 p.m. Dec. 3, 4, and 6; 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 7; and 2 p.m. Dec. 8 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
TICKETS: $25.15-$35.45, except $50 Golden Tickets, so that children aged 4-12 get a special onstage experience.
NCT Box Office: 919-831-6941, firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://www.nctheatre.com/tickets/season-tickets.
Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or https://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/369155/2615192. GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-831-6941, email@example.com,, or http://nctheatre.com/groups.
SHOW: https://nctheatre.com/snow-white-christmas, https://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/events/snow-white-christmas, and https://www.facebook.com/events/332505400722409/.
VIDEO PREVIEWS: https://vimeo.com/365879166.
2019-20 SEASON: https://nctheatre.com/show-season/201920-season.
PRESENTER: http://www.nctheatre.com/, https://www.facebook.com/nctheatre, https://twitter.com/nctheatre, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Carolina_Theatre, and http://www.youtube.com/user/nctheatre.
NCT BLOG (Stage Notes): http://www.nctheatre.com/stage-notes.
Robert O’Connell is new to the Triangle, but not to the stage. As a playwright, he has had dozens of productions and awards throughout the world. He has an MS degree in Management Systems Analysis. A lifelong educator, O’Connell has also published three novels at http://www.flashmobthenovel.com/ and two humor anthologies from his blog, https://thesmartestguyiknow.wordpress.com/. He and his wife have settled in Cary, NC. Click here to read his reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.