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Friday, 7 January 2022

REVIEW: Cinderella at the Theatre Royal Bath

While many Pantomimes close around New Year’s Day each year, the Theatre Royal Bath’s production usually runs until the following weekend and this year it’s Cinderella closes on the 9th of January. It’s a great time to visit Bath as the streets are quieter and you can appreciate the wonderful architecture of this lovely Georgian City and there can’t be a more wonderful setting for a traditional family pantomime than this beautiful venue. Jon Monie must love this place too as this is his 19th season in Pantomime here and with over 1000 performances behind him, he has the experience and knowledge on how to write and deliver a very well-judged and balanced show. It clearly was enjoyed by the schools’ parties at the matinee I attended but had plenty of cheeky innuendo for the adults to enjoy (with only a joke about Strange-ways Prison overstepping the mark).

His script, in the hands of Director Hannah Sharkey with a very good ensemble cast, is an excellent combination of traditional storytelling, a fresh injection of ideas into some of the standard pantomime business and music choices with new lyrics that flow from the story. The whole production is well-staged in another UK Production set design by Charlie Camm, Jon Harris and Jason Bishop with an attractive practical village scene, a very successful transformation scene from Kitchen to Coach and a clever touch when Cinders is hidden from Charming by the Ugly Sisters. This all adds up into an excellent showcase of the skills of the cast to entertain young and old. 

Tuesday, 4 January 2022

REVIEW: Cinderella at the Corn Exchange, Newbury

For their last performance of 2021, the Newbury production of Cinderella had to adjust with Jordon Benjamin stepping up from an Ensemble of two into the leading role of Prince Charming as the understudy for William Beckerleg but his confident stage presence covered any uncertainty over filing the role. Indeed, the whole cast looks like they are enjoying themselves in the knowledge that the creative team behind the show have developed an imaginative and fresh take on the familiar title and perhaps that there were only four more shows until the end of the run!

The script by Clare Prested, Adam Brown (who also directs) and Amanda Wilsher is full of clever fresh ideas that breathes new life into the story and dispenses with the Buttons character. This spreads the responsibility for the comedy to the rest of the cast and they rise to the challenge wonderfully. The Dandini character is elevated to the comical Deldini borrowing heavily from Only Fools and Horses and brilliantly incorporating the famous bar scene collapse. Billy Robert’s is excellent in the role of creating the chirpy East End chappie.

Friday, 31 December 2021

REVIEW: Cinderella at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

The Mayflower Southampton posters have Craig Revel Horwood and Debbie McGee as the headliners, but it is Richard Cadell as Buttons with his co-star Sooty that makes this show stand out from the crowd this Christmas with a high energy magical performance that supports the narrative but equally entertains with some spectacular illusions and charming comedy with his puppets. Horwood as the aloof villainess stepmother Baroness Demonica and McGee as the Fairy Godmother look the part as they elegantly sashay on and off but only occasionally get a chance to take centre stage. Indeed, when they finally get to look for Cinderella to try on the slipper it is Sooty’s magic rather than the Fairy Godmother that locates her.

The Mayflower stage is wide and deep with plenty of wing space, and this enables the production to include a lot of large props to support the cast. Horwood arrives on a golf buggy, Cadell arrives on a motorbike in a brilliant illusion, Sooty enters on a mini camper van and Cinderella departs for the Ball on a flying coach and horses over the audience (although unusually the lights cues were late and revealed the lifting mechanism as it took off). Cadell also includes a delightfully cute illusion where cast members appear under cloths from an apparently empty cubicle and a spectacular escape from a hanging box chopped up by a set of chain saws. He completes his magic performances with a comedy routine with Sooty under three buckets bringing a fresh twist to the ball and cups street magic. They are all shoehorned into the narrative but are executed with such skill and energy that we simply sit back and enjoy the presentation. 

Sunday, 26 December 2021

REVIEW: Cinderella at the Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent

My last visit to the Regent Stoke on Trent was in 2006 to see Jonathan Wilkes in pantomime so it was with pleasure and anticipation that we returned to see him in Cinderella this December. In the intervening fifteen years, he has developed a strong comedy partnership with Christian Patterson (who also directs this show) and a powerful connection with the Stoke on Trent audience even though he appears to be a Port Vale FC fan. That rapport is visible from his first appearance from a spurious spacecraft cut out and together they pack plenty of jokes and a lot of adult innuendo into the first thirty minutes. It is a bit of a whirlwind with the rest of the cast very much in subsidiary roles. 

Alan McHugh’s 2021 scripts which underpin most of the Crossroads shows set up some standard pantomime business with a music lip-sync routine, twelve days of Christmas pandemonium and the Suzie Shaw tongue twister. For the first time audience member, these routines generate lots of laughs although they have little to do with the narrative and are barely adapted to each title. Patterson has clearly added to the script some of the best lines that land with the audience and each is delightfully pointed and reacted to by Wilkes and Patterson as Buttons and the Dame (this year). They perform the Balloon ballet at the Ball, but you will see better versions elsewhere like in Reading’s Cinderella with Justin Fletcher and Paul Morse. The DVD storytelling routine is executed well with plenty of innuendoes! They pack plenty of effort into a sing-off routine to replace the traditional song sheet and get a strong response from the audience.

Friday, 17 December 2021

REVIEW: Cinderella at the Cliffs Pavilion, Southend-on-Sea

Brian Conley is one of the modern Kings of Pantomime and from his first appearance he effortlessly had a young audience eating out of his hands whatever he did. With a little bit of effort on some fresher material, he would have had them rolling in the aisles too. He engages with the audience well, although the show is all about him, “I am on the poster” he repeatedly tells us and indeed none of the rest of the cast gets any subsidiary billing at all. He also co-wrote the script with the legendary master of Pantomime Michael Harrison who runs the Production Company Crossroads, so they certainly know what works. Conley’s material has worked for years, and he delivers it professionally but in a mechanical way perhaps holding back early in the run. The Masked Singer gag was a good idea underdeveloped, Dangerous Buttons fell flat, and the song on the log wall with the Prince and Cinders upset the balance of the scene where Cinders and Prince first meet.

There is in fact a very good supporting cast but the interaction between them under Kathryn Rooney’s direction does not create the feel of an ensemble cast working together to deliver the show. This is particularly true of the two excellent Ugly Sisters the tall Ben Stock and the shorter Neal Wright. They have little of their own business and are underused although they do get to do a rather lame electrocution sketch with Conley. Stock’s reactions to whatever is happening are wonderful and they have some marvellous costumes including too stunning Chandelier dresses for the Ball. They deserved more stage time to truly demonstrate their statement “aren’t we gorgeous”!

Thursday, 9 December 2021

REVIEW: Cinderella at the Richmond Theatre

Strictly Come Dancing fans are spoilt for choice this Christmas with Craig Revel Horwood in Southampton’s pantomime, Shirley Ballas at the Tunbridge Wells’ pantomime and Anton Du Beke at Richmond. It has been a very good few months for Du Beke as he settled so well into the role of Strictly Judge and now makes his Pantomime debut as Buttons in Cinderella. Inevitably the production focuses on telling the familiar story through dance and I doubt whether you will see a finer, prettier, or more charming version of Cinderella this Christmas anywhere in the country.

His natural easy charm, twinkling eyes and smooth elegant moves easily win over the audience and when he stumbles on the occasional line it just adds to his appeal. He performs with effortless gentle ease so that even his careful slow exits generate delightful Ah’s and Oh’s from an admiring audience. When he engages with traditional pantomime business his natural style brings a freshness to the routines. As a result, the Alexa music clips routine which has become a staple of pantomime in recent years is beautifully executed with each clip given an elegant dance move as the Ugly Sisters feed him the cues. Then Buttons cheering up Cinders routine is also freshened up as it becomes a dance routine around “You to me are everything”. Of course, at the Ball Du Beke, gets to put on his top hat and tails for some fancy footwork. 

REVIEW: Cinderella, streaming in cinemas

Peter Duncan last year boldly led the way with his streamed Pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk, filmed largely in his back garden and created an entertaining film that brought joy and laughter into family homes that Christmas with an energetic and enthusiastic cast. This year he has returned with a bigger budget, location shooting and higher production values in his version of Cinderella for streamed and theatrical cinema release. Some of the comedy and spontaneity has been lost in the process but nevertheless, the result is a polished and good-looking version of this classic Pantomime story.

Written and directed by Peter Duncan a much-loved Children’s entertainer from his days on Blue Peter in the eighties and period as Chief Scout as well as directing many pantomimes on stage. More recently he was in The Dame on stage written by his daughter Katie so there was plenty of experience to draw on in creating this film version. They stick to the traditional story with Baron Hardup, two ugly stepdaughters, Buttons in love with Cinders and the standard pumpkin transformation scene and slipper trying on scene. The interiors of Hardup Hall look wonderful (set & props design by Lyndon Harrison), capturing the spirit of the stage version on sets which looked like they had painted the interior of his own London house! The arrival at the Palace in horse and carriage was given the full film treatment that could not be done on stage. Interestingly the Ballroom scene is moved to the woodlands for an outdoor festival which gives it a magical feel although makes it look more like Into the Woods or Alice in Wonderland especially with the circus acts and young ensemble dressed as cute animals.

Friday, 3 December 2021

REVIEW: Cinderella at the Wilde Theatre in South Hill Park

The pantomime season has started, and my first visit is to perhaps the most popular and traditional title of Cinderella at the small intimate Wilde Theatre in South Hill Park. Joyce Branagh’s script gives the familiar story a very fresh modern feel by setting it in HardUp Hotel run by Buttons and Cinders, although with the junior ensemble dressed as geriatrics with Zimmer frames, it looks more like an upmarket care home. Director Adam Stafford takes this starting point and integrates the Junior Ensemble into each scene to add depth to the small cast and create some of the best comedy moments of the show.

Victoria Spearing’s fourteenth pantomime set design once again sets new standards in creativity and innovation with a wonderful three truck set for the Hotel Reception which is practical and attractive and transforms into a beautifully conceived external gypsy caravan cafe wood scene that doubles up for the Finale walk down. In between it felt like what was left of the budget was sparingly used in the slosh scene and the ballroom scene which failed to match up to the quality of the opening scenes and the transformation scene was rather pedestrian. Alan Valentine’s colourful lighting adds to the pretty pictures created. 

Monday, 26 July 2021

COMING HOME: Lauren Byrne, currently in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cinderella at the Gillian Lynne Theatre

Pocket Size Theatre and Liza Heinrichs (Captured by Liz) have teamed up again and created our new series 'Coming Home'. In this new piece, we look at the reopening of Theatres in London and around the country and celebrate our industry coming back. We got together some performers who will be some of the first to return to theatres and created this piece to bring some positivity to the theatre industry which has been through one of the toughest years in our lifetime. Whilst it is important to acknowledge the hardships we've all gone through, it's important we pull together as a community and celebrate our beloved industry finally coming back! 

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s journey to open Cinderella at the Gillian Lynne Theatre has probably been one of the most documented and talked-about stories in relation to the reopening of theatres. This new retelling of the classic fairytale opened on the 25th June 2021 with an opening night of the 20th July, this has been changed due to performances being suspended because of a COVID related case. With music by Lloyd Webber Himself, lyrics by David Zippel and a book by Emerald Fennell, the show is one of the handful of new musicals opening theatre again after the closure of theatres because of the pandemic. 

Lauren Byrne is appearing in the shows ensemble and is also covering the title role. Making her West End debut in the musical, she was previously playing the role of Jane Seymour in the UK Touring production of Six the Musical. Her other credits include Swing and cover Cynthia and Carole in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (UK Tour), Mabel and Dance Captain in Blondel (Union Theatre) and Understudy Rasa, Peggy, Gwen and Joyce in Sunny Afternoon (UK Tour). Lauren is the co-founder of the new training system ‘In3 Arts’, providing part-time training alongside her ex-Six cast member Harriet Watson. 

Monday, 28 June 2021

COMING HOME: Michael Afemaré, appearing in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella at the Gillian Lynne Theatre

Pocket Size Theatre and Liza Heinrichs (Captured by Liz) have teamed up again and created our new series 'Coming Home'. In this new piece, we look at the reopening of Theatres in London and around the country and celebrate our industry coming back. We got together some performers who will be some of the first to return to theatres and created this piece to bring some positivity to the theatre industry which has been through one of the toughest years in our lifetime. Whilst it is important to acknowledge the hardships we've all gone through, it's important we pull together as a community and celebrate our beloved industry finally coming back! 

Michael Afemaré was due to perform in the transfer production of Evita. The show was revived in a brand new production at the Regent’s Park, Open Air Theatre in 2019 and was meant to be taking over the Barbican in the summer of 2020. But, with the closure of theatres, the production, unfortunately, didn’t go ahead. What that meant for Michael was that he had lost out on a wonderful job. But, we mustn’t focus on the negatives because the day before we met Michael, it was announced that he would be joining the original London company of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella. Having previously been in the original London cast of Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre, he is no stranger to a West End premiere! 

Over the past year, so many issues have been brought to the surface and highlighted in our industry. So many important conversations have been going on and with theatre now planning on reopening, this is the time for the change and progress we’ve been campaigning for. Michael feels incredibly passionate about the lack of representation of ethnicity within the industry, in particular artists of Indian and Asian heritage. Something interesting that he also brings up is, this isn’t just about the casts and people we see on stage, it goes way beyond that, “I am always trying to fight the fight for more equal opportunities, but these opportunities also need to exist beyond theatre casts. I would love for there to be a world where representation and diversity can be noted and appreciated in more positions of power; creative teams, directors, choreographers, casting directors - the list is endless.” 

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

REVIEW: Cinderella, the interactive online Pantomime by PantoLive

Pantomime is essentially a live experience and many of the Christmas streams failed to capture that audience interaction which makes a trip to the theatre to see one such a brilliant family experience or school outing. Panto Live have embraced the digital streaming technology to create a very clever and well thought out interactive experience in our homes or classrooms. It's available as a live stream until 4th April and then on-demand after that and it is definitely worth giving it a try especially with young children over the Easter holiday.

The pantomime is shot live in front of a green screen, with 3D virtual worlds, effects and backgrounds generated in Unreal Engine, a world-building tool used in video games and TV shows such as Fortnite. This gives each scene depth and a magical feel with moving elements, special effects, and lighting sources. It looks very good with only occasional “halo” effects around the characters in front of the images. 

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

REVIEW: Cinderella at the Turbine Theatre

Pantomime at this time of year is usually a family affair but there has always existed an adult version which targets a narrower audience in which there are no boundaries. Jim Davison toured often with Sinderella and Boobs in the Wood and versions are still available online but this version from Paul Taylor Mills at the Turbine Theatre definitely does not start from the same outlook as those nineties shows. Instead his Cinderella is a 2020 socially distanced romp that soon lives up to its billing of "not for the faint-hearted". It is definitely for an 18 plus audience and you soon lose count of the use of the "F-word"s, repeated often for cheap laughs from the Battersea audience. 

The pedigree of the show bodes well. Taylor-Mills has had some creative success since he opened the tiny Turbine Theatre next to the redeveloping Battersea Power station. Jodie Prenger who co-wrote the show with Neil Hurst, found fame on the TV Talent show "I'd do anything" and has established herself as a Leading Lady in Oliver!, Annie, Spamalot and most recently in a revival of A Taste of Honey. Director Lizzie Connolly met her star of this show, Rufus Hound who plays Buttons in the West End production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrel. The cast is restricted by the rule of six so alongside Hound are a hard-working talent cast of five.

Saturday, 26 December 2020

REVIEW: Cinderella at KidZania (Online)

KidZania is a scaled city replica of real life for children from 4-14 years, designed to empower and inspire, located in West London (W12) which of course was closed when London went into Tier 4 on 16th December. However, they were bold enough to capture a version of Cinderella earlier this year so can offer the kids a glimpse of what they are missing. The production is filmed inside the building using the street scenes as a background for the Village, the ballroom and forest and a traditional stage cloth to set the Hard Up Hall kitchen. It works extremely well giving the show a realistic feel with depth of scene and acting as a promotion for the venue.

Maybe because it is targeted at the same 4 to 14-year-olds with a low attention span in a multimedia world, the show is kept short to just forty-five minutes and they focus on the music rather than the traditional pantomime business and jokes. We only get a handful of the old gags (including a good Weakest Link parody) which are slipped into the storytelling that speeds along until the custard pies provide a weak finish. There ought to be a warning message to the under fourteens "to not try this at home" when Cinderella gets shut in a fridge as opposed to the usual dungeon or cupboard. The call-outs to the audience of course go unanswered which feels flat and they don't acknowledge the silence but pretend there is a response. 

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

The Best Onstage Quick Changes in Musical Theatre!

I am an absolute sucker for a quick change and an onstage quick change, I am all for! The little theatre kid in me absolutely LIVES for these in musicals because that's what I used to pretend to do in my bedroom (just me...?). The designers on these shows are incredible and do not get enough credit in general but certainly don't get the credit they deserve for these cool and innovative changes on stage! Take a look at our list and tweet us ones we've missed! 

Mean Girls | Cady Hearon in Revenge Party

Heathers | Heather Duke in Never Shut up Again 


Thursday, 2 January 2020

REVIEW: Cinderella at the Hexagon, Reading

Cinderella is the best pantomime title with a delightfully familiar story of good overcoming evil in family conflict and while the writers of the Lyric Hammersmith and Southampton NST felt the need to play with the story, Justin Fletcher sticks to a straight traditional retelling of the tale in his tenth appearance at Hexagon Pantomime. The result is a gently paced Christmas treat for the young families of Reading.

Fletcher, better known to his young audience as Mr Tumbles as well as writing the script stars as Buttons and benefits from director Stephen Boden, the man behind the producers Imagine, and Adrian Edmeades as choreographer ensuring a balanced mix of song, dance and Panto business in a disciplined controlled production with an even pace and good use of all the cast members. Fletcher responds by doing what he does best charmingly and un-aggressively engages the audience in an effortless way.

Monday, 30 December 2019

10 Musicals we can't wait for in 2020

City of Angels at the Garrick Theatre 

Josie Rourke’s “ingenious, stupendous revival” (The Telegraph) premiered in 2014, when it was hailed as “a blissful evening” (The Stage) that’s “smart, seductive and very funny” (Evening Standard). With a swinging score by Cy Coleman and David Zippel and a brilliantly witty book by Larry Gelbart, CITY OF ANGELS is a musical love letter to the glamorous world of old Hollywood and film noir.

Sunday in the Park with George at the Savoy Theatre

Academy Award nominee Jake Gyllenhaal and Tony Award® winner Annaleigh Ashford star in Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece Sunday In the Park with George coming to London for a strictly limited run at the Savoy Theatre from June 2020.

Hello, Dolly! at the Adelphi Theatre 

Imelda Staunton is back where she belongs in Hello, Dolly! at the Adelphi Theatre in 2020. This brand new production re-unites Imelda with Director Dominic Cooke following the critically acclaimed production of Follies at the National Theatre. Meddlesome socialite turned matchmaker Dolly Levi travels to Yonkers, New York to find a match for the miserly, unmarried ‘half-a-millionaire’ Horace Vandergelder, but everything changes when she decides that the next match she needs to make is for herself. 

Cinderella at the Hope Mill Theatre 

Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella comes to Hope Mill Theatre this Spring with the fully staged UK premiere of this classic fairytale. Brought to life in an enchanting musical by the duo behind Oklahoma, Carousel and South Pacific. The smart and beautiful young Ella lives in the care of her wicked, self-absorbed stepmother Madame and Madame’s two daughters, Charlotte and Gabrielle. Ella’s only friends in the world are the animals in the woods, “Crazy Marie” and the revolutionary student Jean-Michel. Meanwhile in another part of the kingdom, Prince Topher is trying to find himself and learn his place in the kingdom. When his scheming advisor Sebastian suggests throwing a Ball so the Prince can meet potential brides, Ella and Topher’s different worlds come together. Expect the unexpected in this clever retelling of the beloved fairytale. 

Be More Chill at the Other Palace 


Coming to The Other Palace from 12 February: BE MORE CHILL is the new musical sensation that’s about to invade your brain… in the best way. An unprecedented international phenomenon, this original and hilarious show exploded onto the musical theatre scene and electrified audiences during its runs off- and on Broadway. Featuring a Tony Award®-nominated score bursting with addictive earworms, BE MORE CHILL is a mind-bendingly fun hit about the competing voices in all of our heads.

The Prince of Egypt at the Dominion Theatre 

Experience the epic emotion and soaring music of THE PRINCE OF EGYPT, the extraordinary new musical from three-time Academy Award-winner Stephen Schwartz. Journey though the wonders of Ancient Egypt as two young men, raised together as brothers in a kingdom of privilege, find themselves suddenly divided by a secret past. One must rule as Pharaoh, the other must rise up and free his true people; both face a destiny that will change history forever. Based on the acclaimed DreamWorks Animation film, and featuring the Academy Award-winning, chart-topping song ‘When You Believe’, THE PRINCE OF EGYPT is an exhilarating, powerful and joyous celebration of belief and the human spirit.

Frozen at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane 

Frozen in the West End will begin previews in October 2020 with tickets going on sale from January, it has been announced. With music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez and book by Jennifer Lee, tickets for the musical go on sale on 6 March – priority booking opens in late January, with groups and schools booking opening on 24 February. The show is based on the highest grossing animated film of all time, which was released in 2013 and won two Academy Awards, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA.

The Drifters Girl at the Garrick Theatre

The Queen of British Soul and West End leading lady BEVERLEY KNIGHT stars in the world premiere of a brand new musical - THE DRIFTERS GIRL. Coming to the West End Autumn 2020, discover the remarkable story of THE DRIFTERS, one of the world’s greatest vocal groups, and the truth about the woman who made them.

Carousel at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park

Celebrated for our innovative approach to classic musicals, rediscover Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel in the unique surroundings of Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. Featuring a score that includes ‘If I Loved You’ and ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, director Timothy Sheader reunites with Superstar choreographer Drew McOnie.

Pretty Woman at the Piccadilly Theatre 

One of Hollywood’s most beloved romantic stories of all time is now coming to the West End! Pretty Woman: The Musical features direction and choreography by two-time Tony Award® winner Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots, Legally Blonde, Hairspray), an original score by Grammy® winner Bryan Adams and his longtime songwriting partner Jim Vallance (“Summer of ’69”, “Heaven”) and a book by the movie’s legendary director Garry Marshall and screenwriter J.F. Lawton.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

REVIEW: Cinderella at The Vaults

An immersive and modern take on the classic fairy-tale made famous by Disney and performed up and down the country every December, Cinderella at The Vaults was more of a Christmas party than a theatre show.

Set in a pub, the bar sits along one wall, with audience seated in both cabaret style and theatre style along the three remaining sides. We are welcomed into the pub and shown to our seats by the characters as they inhabit the venue. The actors truly inhibit their characters and indulge in playing with the audience, teasing them and welcoming them into the world.

Mike, played by Jimmy Fairhurst and taking on the usual role of Cinderella’s fairy godmother, is the host of karaoke and warms up the audience with both his dress sense and a wonderful rendition of Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. Once the audience have had a chance to get a drink from the bar and been sniffed by Buttons the dog, the show begins as every fairy-tale should: with a rendition Bohemian Rhapsody.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

REVIEW: CinderELLA at the Nuffield Southampton Theatre

CinderELLA at the NST was the third reworking of the traditional magical Christmas Pantomime title of the week. Having seen a female Buttons marry an ugly sister at the Lyric Hammersmith and a smelly dog called Buttons get washed in a Karaoke pub at the Vaults, I was prepared for something different with the NST version this Christmas. In Michael Fentiman's version there is no Buttons and two Cinderellas, one young one, Cinders who cares for an older one Ella, whose two nieces Melania and Ivanka are trying to con her. With original music by Barnaby Rice and a cast of seven actor musicians the result is a quirky charming musical entertainment with more than a hint of the style and tone of Into the Woods and a slight sense of work in progress. 

There is a strong opening to the show with a grand evocative Art Deco ballroom stage setting and a gorgeous bridal gown centre stage which magical flies out to whoops of delight from the young girls in the audience. The opening number sets the tone with "Once upon a time" establishing the two Cinderella characters, both grieving lost love ones and the mystical policeman.

Saturday, 23 November 2019

REVIEW: Cinderella at the Lyric Hammersmith

The Lyric Hammersmith is a curious venue with the wonderful Frank Matcham interior reinstalled inside a new seventies breeze block box with basic finishings and this year's Christmas offering of Cinderella which runs from 16th November to 5th January 2020 seems to follow the same idea with the traditional classic Pantomime story updated in a modern basic frame. I doubt that there will be a more politically correct version of Cinderella on offer this year reflecting the affluent diverse local population and attracting an audience of yummy mummies with their kids.

Jude Christian who wrote and directed the 2018 pantomime Dick Whittington, and directed the 2017 Jack and the Beanstalk, has written "the usual Lyric twist" version of Cinderella set in The Hammersmith of today. Here Buttons is a female tailor who falls in love with one of the ugly sisters, Cinders in dungarees and aspiring to be an astro physicists, falls for a shortsighted shy Prince Bob and the Stepmother has a pet alligator! There are jokes about zero hours contracts, January 31st tax deadlines, Fracking, drones near Heathrow and Pizza Express in Woking and then curiously innuendo references to Fallopian tubes and having only one ball to give the show a grown up feel. 

Saturday, 21 September 2019

REVIEW: Northen Ballet's Cinderella at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking

Cinderella is a fairy-tale we have all grown up with; a charming riches-to-rags-to-riches story of a young woman’s journey to happiness and love… Following the death of her husband, Countess Serbrenska (Cinderella’s Stepmother) enslaves Cinderella to a life of pot scrubbing and floor cleaning as she’s driven mad by grief. She continues to spoil her own daughters, Natasha and Sophie, but leaves Cinderella in the dark. Thankfully, there is magic in the air and Cinders is soon to be saved, and in turn, find true love and an inner strength any young woman should admire. 

Like many, I’ve known this story (or variations of it) since I was three years-old, but never before have I been moved by this tale like I was during this production. The Northern Ballet has created pure magic with this ballet; the spectacle, the costumes, the music arrangements, the dancers, the huge set pieces – it’s truly magical. A little Christmas-y for mid-September but you’ll hear no complaints for me in that regard.
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