Theatre Royal, Nottingham – until 5 January 2020
Reviewed by Boo Wakefield
Panto is back in Nottingham – oh yes it is!
This year the Theatre Royal have put on a production of Cinderella. Written by Alan McHugh, it has all the right ingredients for an entertaining night out – spectacular costumes, amazing magic, toe-tapping songs, star-studded cast and local in-jokes for both the young and slightly older!
The two ugly sisters lead the cast played by Les Dennis (Michaela) and Conor McIntyre (Phelina), both from Coronation Street. As they starred last year in panto together, they are at ease playing opposite each other and are a well-timed double act.
Richard Cadell plays an energetic Buttons along with his little friend Sooty. They dominate the play with their slap stick comedy and incredible magic acts and if you are a fan of Sooty you will love it.
Gareth Gates plays Prince Charming and now has 17 years performing experience since his Pop Idol fame. His singing is just as you would expect it to be: beautiful and strong but sadly we don’t hear enough from him in this production. Jack McNeill plays his sidekick Dandini who makes the most of the time he has on stage. Prince Charming’s true love Cinderella is played by Hannah Grace Lawson who is ideal for this role as she is sweet and pretty with a lovey voice. Fairy Godmother Kimberley Blake was a joy to watch, delivering her lines with a touch of humour and her “Fabulous Fairy” song was spectacular with all the dancers dressed as the YMCA. The highlights were the routine for ‘If I Were Not Upon This Stage” which had everyone in fits of laughter and the Two Ugly Sisters, Buttons and Prince Charming timed their slap stick moves to perfection, along with the breath taking carriage and horses taking Cinders to the ball which flew up into the air and over the audience – a spectacular sight.
Overall, this delivers the magic you expect from a panto and the audience loved the water pistols, whoopie cushions, the inevitable screaming of “he’s behind you” and the unpredictable children invited up on to the stage but I was confused as to how sweet Cinderella changed into wrestler during one song and Buttons had to be rescued from a ninja with 6 chainsaws in a magic act. Difficult ones to explain to the children. Yes, there were a few teething problems which were covered up with jokes and laughter but I’m sure these will be ironed out. A sparkly, feel-good production.