A Snow White Christmas is simply an enchanting show. Now playing at the El Portal Theatre through Dec. 18, the Lythgoe Family Productions has created a spectacular new holiday classic, which features “snow” during the “Celebration” royal wedding finale after a blizzard of fun on stage.
The interactive nature of the show makes me want to review the audience participation as well as the performers, but suffice to say the crowds quickly catch on to cheering all the action. That’s a hallmark of the grand tradition of the British Panto type of theater. It’s the re-telling of a classic fairy tale with modern songs and outrageous comedy.
Born to play the role of Snow White is raven-haired Lindsay Pearce with her sparkling personality that lights up the stage, especially when singing “Born This Way” and “Firework.” The Glee Project runner-up also embraces a spunky spirit that makes her more modern than a vintage Disney Princess.
The Wicked Queen has Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: The Next Generation) assuming the royal bad girl role with ease. The sultry villainess struts her stuff singing “Toxic” and “Bad Things,” and revels in the jeers from the audience snapping right back at them.
Oozing charm as Prince Harry, Erich Bergen knows how to milk a laugh with the subtly of a raised eyebrow or an outrageous sashay across the stage. But his musical numbers, “Power of Love” and “Nothing’s Gonna Change” duet with Pearce, validate the rock star status of the Jersey Boys alumnus.
The strong supporting cast is led by Jonathan Meza who is exceptional playing Muddles, the hilarious narrator, skilled at making sure the audience gets involved. David Figlioli is Herman the Huntsman, a big man who is also a huge comic talent. As the Magic Mirror, Neil Patrick Harris is featured via video but generates real charisma. Choreographer Spencer Liff’s dancers: Italo Elgueta, Dashi Mitchell, Katie Reese, and Morgan Larsen give panache to the production numbers. Two teams of kids share the duties of playing the Seven Dwarves with great stage presence, plus an aah-worthy appearance by the special pony Blitzen.
Director-producer Bonnie Lythgoe has brought it all together and tied it up with a big ribbon of entertainment, aided by musical director Michael Orland and producer Becky Baeling. And a nod for the clever storytelling goes to writer-producer Kris Lythgoe, who peppered the script with topical references and humor that gives a wink and a nudge to local institutions. Costumes, scenery, lighting, music and everything else were first-rate for A Snow White Christmas.