Live streamed shows are definitely a new theatre experience! However, it has come to be the new normal. Whilst I love nothing more than being physically in a theatre, there’s something equally exciting about sharing an experience with your household in the comfort of your own home. It’s a very different experience, but it gives you a completely alternate view to being there in person, and this production still ensures that audiences at home feel connected to the show, comedy and the interactivity of Panto.
The New Wolsey Theatre’s, The Snow Queen starts with the classic magical Panto entrance, where we meet Icicle and Primrose – who set-up the story of The Snow Queen for us. All is well in the peaceful little town of Ballbroken; headstrong Gerda is about to be crowned the Queen of May, the blacksmith’s apprentice Simon Clinkerbin hopes to graduate and get his very own hammer, Dame Sigrid Smorgasbord has prepared a May Day feast, and something’s blossoming between Sigrid’s young son Kay and the blacksmith’s daughter Gerda. However, Primrose, Spirit of the Spring, smashes the Snow Queen’s cursed mirror to destroy its dark powers and banish her forever – but little does she know this only makes matters worse!
The show then opens with a take on J-Lo’s ‘Let’s Get Loud’ which lifted the energy and gets you in the panto party mood. Swiftly followed by a few beats of ‘My Corona’ (to the tune of ‘My Sharona’ of course) during the entrance of the Dame – yes, as you can imagine there are pandemic jokes a-plenty. Dame Sigrid Smorgasbord is everything you expect to see from a Panto Dame, and if you’re a regular to shows at the New Wolsey, you’ll recognise Steve Simmonds’ quirky style and humour.
We then meet the two young romantic leads, through a pre-recorded film shot around Ipswich for a little song; which for locals gives a great chance to play ‘spot the location’ – and to those from further afield, welcome to the sights of our town! We gradually meet the rest of the characters, who add lots of humour and silliness into the mix, and soon young Kay is spirited away in the Snow Queen’s magic sleigh, which gave a rather impressive use of Green Screen as we transport into a snowy world, and he is held captive in her glittering Ice Palace. It’s up to brave young Gerda and poor Dame Sigrid to trek to the Frozen North to rescue him. Will they make it before Kay is turned to ice forever, or will love come out on top?
During the interval, the audience gets the chance to name the Hammer of Ipswich – and there’s a smashing range of names! The top of act two then sees the hammer being retrieved from a household watching along at home… of course the drama continues to peak throughout act two, there’s more hits to be sung, and we await the happy ending for all!
Overall, the show is a little rough around the edges, but given the circumstances it still works really well. The livestream experience worked really well, and still provided the panto magic. Everything you expect from a New Wolsey Rock’n’Roll panto is in there (apart from running through the audience of course – social distancing and all that!), and it’s sure to fill your family household bubbles with laughter and joy for a couple of hours this Christmas. Kudos to all involved for their hard work in putting on the show, and I urge you to support if you can as our theatres need you.
There are also lots of accessible options too, which I think is really important – as it means more people can enjoy the Panto experience! If you think you know someone who would enjoy it, spread the word.
The Snow Queen runs at The New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich runs until 24th December, in person seats are sold out (but keep an eye on returns) but you can still live-stream at home for every performance. Find out more at www.wolseytheatre.co.uk/the-snow-queen-online.