SNOW WHITE AND THE GROUP OF SEVEN by David Finley, directed by Ted Dykstra (Ross Petty Productions). Runs until January 8. See Continuing Theatre listings for details. Rating: NN
Snow White and the Group of Seven might be the name of the latest Elgin Theatre holiday panto, but don't expect much in the way of Canadian art. The reference to the Group of Seven seems purely arbitrary.
Maybe dwarves were too expensive, or too politically incorrect, to hire for the show.
Instead, we've got seven moderately famous male singers including one former Canadian Idol winner ( Ryan Malcolm ) and two also-rans ( Gary Beals and Billy Klippert ) to make up an aspiring boy band.
They're friends of the titular Snow White (Idol finalist Elena Juatco ), who stumbles across them in the forest while she's away from her stepmother, evil Queen Celine Poutine ( Ross Petty ), and her stepmom's gender-confused sidekick, Ms. Manleypaants ( Naomi Emmerson ).
Snow White's also smitten with Prince Willie Wanderoff ( Jamie McKnight ), who's got his own sidekick, Hunger Gas Bag III ( Eddie Glen ).
Narrating the whole mess is Seán Cullen as Guy Endermeer (say it quickly), the Queen's confidante.
Petty's annual pantomimes have never been models of good storytelling, but this year's is particularly confusing.
Writer David Finley initially distracts us with makeover machines and a bit of hypnotism, but then perhaps realizing he's got to make those Canadian Idols earn their salaries he concocts a singing competition.
Juatco has a relaxed stage presence, but the guys including the oddly coiffed Malcolm sound frighteningly similar.
There are fewer political and cultural references this year. Perhaps Finley and director Ted Dykstra thought the audience wouldn't get them.
The best bits, oddly enough, are improvised. Cullen, taking it all as seriously as it deserves (which is not very), gets to ad lib with the cast and audience members. When he's paired with Glen, an equally funny clown, the show soars.
Otherwise, it's a snore.