Above, Snow White, Rachael O'Connor, and her Prince Charming, Conor O'Kane.
Mirror, mirror on the wall, which is the fairest panto of them all?
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has returned to the Millennium Forum with a bang, some puffs of smoke and a full evening of side splitting family fun.
Some shops may well have swapped their scary decorations for Christmas trees as the Halloween fireworks started to fade on October 31st, but things really don’t get serious in the Christmas countdown stakes until the Forum’s panto rolls into town. Then you know you’re in business.
Over the years their pantos have been an essential ingredient for many throughout the North West, and with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs being their nineteenth edition, I can honestly say this is their best yet.
From the set to the performances of everyone involved, it was spectacular. Extravagant, mesmerising and enchanting while also providing a slightly more modern twist here and there within the classic fairy tale of Snow White.
The audience both young and old were captivated. So much so, that I overheard a young audience member behind me say to his mum: ‘this is like a film’. I would agree. This production would not have looked out of place being beamed out across the nation on Christmas Day.
The Forum’s pantomimes are not only great family entertainment, but they also serve as a reminder of the incredible talent we have on our doorstep and throughout Northern Ireland.
Rachael O’Connor, who takes on the lead role of Snow White, has been performing in local shows and festivals since a young age and was also a member of the Forum’s very own Youth Production of Grease in 2013 where she played Sandy. SInce then she has carved out a successful career, making it to the quarter-finals of the Voice UK at the tender age of 16 while also appearing in many stage shows such as Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games.
Above, the Evil Queen, Karen Hawthorne and the Seven Dwarfs.
It wouldn’t be a Forum panto without William Caulfield at the helm. The Northern Irish comic returns for the fourteenth year as Panto Dame. Taking on the role of Nurse Molly, he keeps the kids - and big kids - in stitches with his innuendos and panto jokes alongside his sidekick local actor Keith Lynch who also returns to play Muddles. Muddles and Nurse Molly are a hilarious double act which very nearly resulted in some burst eardrums as the decibel levels generated by the kids getting involved were immense.
The jovial duo become the humourous trio as Herman the Henchman, performed by Andrew Porter, leaves the services the Evil Queen to join the gang.
Conor O’Kane, a local actor and producer based in London, is another performer who has carved out a successful career since rising through the ranks of the Millennium Forum Youth Theatre and returns as Prince Charming. His energy and charisma encapsulate the hero of the hour as he saves Snow White from the evil clutches of the Wicked Queen, performed superbly by Karen Hawthorne.
I am not overstating it when I say that the vocal performances throughout where exceptional. The Evil Queen and Snow White however deserve special mention.
Even Donegal legend Daniel O’Donnell makes a special appearance, although not in person, as the Magic Mobile on the wall to share his wisdom and reveal the fairest in the land. And of course, Snow White is joined by her friends the Seven Dwarfs, who perform the much loved songs of the classic tale.
This energetic show is a perfect Christmas treat for all the family and will surely strengthen the Millennium Forum’s reputation in hosting the best panto in all the land.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs runs at the Millennium Forum until 29 December with tickets priced from £12 - £21. Click HERE for bookings.