toA holiday show that’s a gift for the entire family, A Snow White Christmas is playing Nov. 30 to Dec. 18 at the historic El Portal Theatre. The Lythgoe Family Productions is presenting the lively musical in the British “Panto” tradition. That Panto style is a sassy show with a modern take on classic fairytales, with lots of popular songs, wonderful characters, crazy comedy, and audience participation.
The casting is perfect for the modern holiday musical. Playing Snow White is Lindsay Pearce, the lovely rising star from The Glee Project. Star Trek: The Next Generation’s stunning Marina Sirtis stars as The Wicked Queen. Erich Bergen of Jersey Boys fame is very princely. David Figlioli as Herman the Huntsman and Jonathan Meza as Muddles are providing the outrageous humor. And Neil Patrick Harris is seen onscreen in a special guest role as “The Magic Mirror.” Plus, Blitzen the miniature pony comes on stage to delight the crowd. Bonnie Lythgoe (from So You Think You Can Dance, Australia) is directing, Kris Lythgoe producing, with choreography by Spencer Liff of So You Think You Can Dance. Lavish sets and costumes are also part of the spectacular production.
Young and sweet, Lindsay Pearce is just right for the title role, and she loves doing this wild and wonderful British version of Snow White. She said, “When I got the script and read the entire story, what impressed me most was the amount of audience participation in the show. The breaking of the fourth wall by sometimes talking directly to the audience really gets them involved. We want them to ‘boo’ the villain, and cheer the prince and the heroes.”
Pearce noted that there are fun local references, “with so much humor tied into modern sensibilities. The evil one is the Wicked Queen of North Hollywood, and she’s trying to take over Los Angeles. Still it’s a classic story, with modern and familiar elements that make it really lovely.”
Although she plays an iconic storybook character, Pearce wanted to make the role her own, and said, “I think what’s essential to playing Snow White is being that loveable princess. She seems like a victim in the beginning because she doesn’t understand why the Queen is so mean to her. Is it just because she’s pretty? But then Snow gets feisty and her inner strength comes out.”
Some of the contemporary songs that are sung by Pearce and the cast are Katy Perry’s “Firework,” Hall & Oates’ “You Make My Dreams Come True,” and The Village People’s “YMCA.” Pearce revealed that she’ll be opening the show with the ensemble singing Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.”
“There’s something for everyone, for all ages,” Pearce enthused. “I think we really ‘put the cookies on the lower shelf for the children’ to enjoy this story. It’s really family friendly for the kids. But there are also jokes in the show that are going to fly right over their heads and entertain the grownups in the audience; funny gags and slapstick humor, appealing to everyone. And a wide variety of songs that kids are going to love, and others the adults will recognize.”
The holidays bring people together, and Pearce believes that going to the theater as a family creates extra special memories. She said, “My mom used to take me to The Nutcracker when I was a child, and it became a tradition. And I think this show can start a tradition for families. It’s a fun experience to enjoy for the holidays. I think it’s a Christmas gift that you give yourself, and you can share a theater experience with a child or with loved ones. It’s quality time that you share together. Holiday shows help you catch that special spirit, and A Snow White Christmas is special because it does that.”
That is the goal for producer Kris Lythgoe, who said that the British Pantos shows are a great holiday tradition in England, and he wants to see it embraced here. Lythgoe started it last year with the wildly successful Cinderella musical at the El Portal for the holidays. And he continues the tradition this year with A Snow White Christmas, the family fun musical show playing Nov. 30 to Dec. 18. Then, back by popular demand, A Cinderella Christmas will play from Dec. 22 to Jan. 8.
Call the El Portal box office for tickets (818) 508-4200 or online at www.elportaltheatre.com.