Review: Snow Queen delights as New Wolsey's rock'n'roll panto returns

Cast of Sbnow Queen standing in a line

The Snow Queen is the New Wolsey Theatre's rock'n'roll panto for 2020. It's playing until December 24 for families at home and for limited audiences in the theatre - Credit: Mike Kwasniak

Snow Queen, Rock’n’Roll Panto,  New Wolsey Theatre, until December 24

It’s been a long wait, a little touch and go at times, but the New Wolsey’s rock’n’roll panto is here and is bringing a touch of normality to Christmas 2020.

“It’s like being at a masked bandits convention” says Dame Seigfried Smorgasbord and she’s not wrong. Socially distanced we may be, but all it takes is a British Panto Dame tottering across a stage to “My Corona,” pushing a shopping trolley teeming with visual gags about fish and suddenly we are given a sense of certainty that is thankfully, for once, not so “unprecedented”. 

The rock and roll panto is a much-loved Ipswich institution – and with The New Wolsey’s own tradition of being a most inclusive and welcoming theatre – the challenge of creating a blended Panto (which means including and acknowledging the live stream audience) has been embraced by the venue with characteristic and inventive gusto. And it works.  

A broken mirror releases the Snow Queen’s evil mission to freeze the hearts of the world. Her icy eye falls on the small Nordic (ish) town of Ballbroken. Young love is separated and by the time all is well, we have slid through a songbook of familiar pop and rock songs, performed live (swoon) that quenches a thirst like the discovery of an oasis. But in the snow, of course.  My favourite was “Sven Will I See You Again”. Pun fans, needless to say, will not be disappointed with this show. 

An outside live broadcast where we meet a live streaming family and film postcards of Ipswich creates a sense of unity between us all, a poignant touchstone along with the obligatory knee jerk boo hiss  “Norwich” moment! 

The dame talks to the blacksmith in the Snow Queen

Dame Seigfried Smorgasbord (Steve Simmonds) tries to get a grasp on what the plot of The Snow Queen is all about. This year's rock'n'roll panto is playing to audiences at home and in the theatre - Credit: Mike Kwasniak

Working as an ensemble, Lucy Wells (Gerda), Adam Langstaff (Kay), Steve Simmonds (Dame Sigrid Smorgasbord), Natasha Lewis (Snow Queen/Primrose) and James Haggie (Icicle/Simon) bring the concept to life thanks to their commitment, their many talents and some wonderful and inexplicably fast costume changes. 

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This is a short run for the New Wolsey panto, but if you can get to see it live- do, and if not your sofa is an equally good option.

They can see you. Oh yes they can!