On Saturday I went to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in Panto at the Birmingham Hippodrome. It is a little late in the season for pantomime, but this was an audio described performance with a touch tour prior to the show. It was my first time at the Hippodrome and I was impressed from start to finish.
We had ten visually impaired and zero fully sighted people in our group. As soon as we walked through the doors, the staff came over to offer assistance. They took us through the touch tour, this is where you get to explore the stage and props in order to help with the appreciation of the performance. We had the opportunity to feel the giant mirror, enormous dragon, the dwarfs home, various character costumes amongst many other things. It is fascinating to observe the great attention to detail.
Between the end of the touch tour and the beginning of the show, we had three members of staff that stayed with our group. They demonstrated how to operate the audio description headsets guided us to buy food and showed us where the toilets were. During the performance, they looked after Calvin for me. Usually, I keep him with me at the theatre, but it is a bit boring for him sitting around doing nothing and quite squashed for us both in between the seats. They walked, spent and fed him for me, bringing him back at the interval.
I was also a virgin to live audio description, so had no idea how detailed it would be. The describer obviously had a script to work from, but there were many occasions that he had to describe off script as in pantomime it isn’t unusual for the cast to alter parts slightly. The audio description definitely helped with knowing what was going on and it was comforting not to be at a loss with visual jokes meaning you could laugh at the same time as the rest of the audience. I found I preferred to not listen to the description during the songs and through the entire performance I only had one ear piece in, as I found it difficult to hear the main action with both.
The show itself was amazing! There were a few stars in the production and Goc Wan stole the show for me. He was fabulous! Compared to Aladdin that I saw last month, this performance was on another level and restored my faith in pantomime.
I am looking forward to returning to the Hippodrome in September for my favourite musical of all time, Cats. Again I have booked for the audio described performance and touch tour.