Family fun at Campus West pantomime Snow White in Welwyn Garden City

PUBLISHED: 20:15 19 December 2019 | UPDATED: 20:15 19 December 2019

Prince Benington of Stevenage (Steve Banks), Hertz Van Rental (Joe Sargent), Muddles (Kieran Parrott) and Nurse Betty Bratwurst (Robert Forknall) in Campus West pantomime Snow White in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Leigh Mulpeter

Prince Benington of Stevenage (Steve Banks), Hertz Van Rental (Joe Sargent), Muddles (Kieran Parrott) and Nurse Betty Bratwurst (Robert Forknall) in Campus West pantomime Snow White in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Leigh Mulpeter

© Leigh Mulpeter

There’s a new cast and new director but the same winning formula in Campus West’s hugely enjoyable 2019 pantomime Snow White in Welwyn Garden City.

Prince Benington of Stevenage (Steve Banks), Nurse Betty Bratwurst (Robert Forknall) and Hertz Van Rental (Joe Sargent) in Campus West pantomime Snow White in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Leigh MulpeterPrince Benington of Stevenage (Steve Banks), Nurse Betty Bratwurst (Robert Forknall) and Hertz Van Rental (Joe Sargent) in Campus West pantomime Snow White in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Leigh Mulpeter

With Jonas Cemm now in the director's chair, this year's WGC production sticks to the madcap template so successfully employed by Helen Crosse in recent years.

There's still plenty of audience participation, with actors frequently popping up in the auditorium and drenching those watching with water guns, but there's also a freshness about the production too, with a new cast looking to impress.

In the absence of Mike Totton as the show's panto dame, Robert Forknall steps into a succession of outlandish frocks and high heels.

Finding someone to fill the shoes vacated by popular WGC panto regular Totton was always going to be a tough ask.

Dancers Rosie Monk, Holly Richard Smith, Jade Marriott and Molly Rushbrook with Robert Forknall as Nurse Betty Bratwurst in Campus West pantomime Snow White in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Leigh MulpeterDancers Rosie Monk, Holly Richard Smith, Jade Marriott and Molly Rushbrook with Robert Forknall as Nurse Betty Bratwurst in Campus West pantomime Snow White in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Leigh Mulpeter

But panto veteran Forknall is a class act, and hopefully will become a regular on the Campus West stage.

After arriving on stage driving a mobility scooter, Forknall as Nurse Betty Bratwurst - with her "Brrrring, Bring" catchphrase - steals the show, whether that's breaking into a Donald Trump impression or singing Shania Twain hit Man! I Feel Like a Woman!, a rather apt song choice.

Hats off also to the costume department for Nurse Betty's colourful wardrobe.

While Forknall is excellent as Nurse Betty, the rest of the cast bring plenty of fun and frivolity to the family show, even when things go slightly wrong and there's an element of ad-libbing required.

Queen Weleena of Welwyn (Lainey Shaw) in Campus West pantomime Snow White in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Leigh MulpeterQueen Weleena of Welwyn (Lainey Shaw) in Campus West pantomime Snow White in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Leigh Mulpeter

One wonders where the script will go for the venue's forthcoming adult 'blue' performances.

Francesca McKean takes on the title role of Snow White, while Lainey Shaw is Queen Weleena of Welwyn, the panto's villain and Snow White's evil stepmum.

Having previously played a panto prince and a villain, Kieran Parrott takes on the comic character of jester Muddles, who is in love with Snow White.

Joe Sargent is the only main cast member returning from last year's production of Aladdin - he played PC Ping Pong and the Genie in that.

Snow White (Francesca McKean) and the wicked Queen (Lainey Shaw) disguised as an old woman in Campus West pantomime Snow White in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Leigh MulpeterSnow White (Francesca McKean) and the wicked Queen (Lainey Shaw) disguised as an old woman in Campus West pantomime Snow White in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Leigh Mulpeter

This time he stars as Hertz Van Rental, the Queen's sidekick who also happens to fancy Snow White.

However, it's Steve Banks as Prince Benington of Stevenage who is Snow White's true love and kisses the panto's plucky heroine after she has taken a bite out of the wicked Queen's poisoned apple.

Hertz also loans Nurse Betty £15 and hilariously finishes out of pocket after being duped by the dame.

And, given orders to kill Snow White - 'the fairest of them all' - by the jealous Queen, Hertz and friends fail miserably, in no small part down to Hertz' pen knife.

Snow White (Francesca McKean) with the dwarfs in Campus West pantomime Snow White in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Leigh MulpeterSnow White (Francesca McKean) with the dwarfs in Campus West pantomime Snow White in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Leigh Mulpeter

The seven dwarfs so associated with the fairy tale are played by young members of the ensemble with masks on, with director Jonas Cemm even providing one of the voiceovers.

Throw in the fairy tale's magic mirror, plenty of silly gags, lots of local references and a few surprises - the 12 Days of Christmas being a barrel of laughs - and you've got an enjoyable show.

Pantomime Snow White can be seen at Campus West until Tuesday, December 31.

Performances of 'Blue' adult panto Snow White: Rotten to the Core run from Friday, December 27 to Saturday, January 4. December dates for the over 18s panto have already sold out.

The Seven Dwarfs played by young members of the company in Campus West pantomime Snow White in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Leigh MulpeterThe Seven Dwarfs played by young members of the company in Campus West pantomime Snow White in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Leigh Mulpeter

For tickets, visit www.cwentertainment.co.uk

The full company of Campus West pantomime Snow White in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Leigh MulpeterThe full company of Campus West pantomime Snow White in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Leigh Mulpeter

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