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Review: 'A Snow White Christmas' Hits the Mark

The Pasadena Playhouse introduces English panto to San Gabriel Valley audiences.

"A Snow White Christmas" brings English pantomime to the Pasadena Playhouse.

A beloved wintertime tradition across the pond, pantomime, popularly called panto, commingles a fairytale with contemporary references, a little vaudeville and audience participation.

While more urbane audiences may find "A Snow White Christmas" soporific, the non-stop jeering, laughing and boisterous clapping coming from the house clearly indicates the play hits the mark in entertaining its target demographic—families with kids between the ages of about 5 to 14.

Starring Nickelodeon's Ariana Grande ("iCarly","Victorious") as the titular character, "A Snow White Christmas" is British director Bonnie Lythgoe's first go at directing pantomime in the United States.

The play opens with Snow White's grand entrance to Lady Gaga's "Born This Way."

Enraged at the pronouncement of the Magic Mirror (the great Neil Patrick Harris, video-projected) that Snow White has surpassed her as the Fairest of Them All, the Wicked Queen (Charlene Tilton), orders Herman the Huntsman (David Figlioli) to take the beleaguered princess into the forest and kill her. But he falls in love with Snow White instead and the queen—to the tunes of "Thriller" and "Bad Things"—hatches a plan to poison her pretty rival with an apple.

When the queen (poisoned apple in hand) knocks at the Seven Dwarf's front door, Snow White ignores the audience's frantic entreaties not to let her in. The princess samples the apple and falls asleep for a very, very long time until her true love's kiss finally awakens her.

In the end, of course, Snow White marries her Prince Harry (Curt Hansen) and the queen pledges "to be much nicer and change my evil ways." The ragtag bunch fetes this fortunate turn of events with a rousing rendition of "Celebration," natch. Even the Dwarf's white pony, Blitzen (played by an actual pony named Little Man) joins in on the fun.

Bottom line? If you're looking for a très sophistiqué cultural experience, or even panto in its purest form, "A Snow White Christmas" won't fit the bill; However, your kids will love it, and if you're a kid at heart, you will, too.

If You Go:

  • Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena.
  • 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m. Saturdays, 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sundays.
  • Ends Dec. 30.
  • Tickets cost $22-$72.
  • Call (626) 356-7529 or visit www.PasadenaPlayhouse.org for more information.
  • Running time: 2 hours, 5 minutes.

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