Churchill Theatre – until 30 December 2018
Review by Elizabeth J Smith
We all know the story of Cinderella and when performed as a pantomime there are certain ‘givens’ that we expect. Beautiful Cinderella, handsome prince charming, two ugly sisters and lots of laughs along the way.
The Churchill and Qdos Production don’t fail on any of these. With much hilarity from the start with references to the local area and the local people. Funny comments on todays news. Packed full of the expected skits and the timeless catch phrases that had the audience shouting out “oh no you didn’t”, booing the villains of the piece and arring with sympathy for the love forlorn Buttons.
Lesley Joseph plays the fairy godmother, pulling on references to her well known Essex character of Dorien, “Birds of a Feather”. She doesn’t possess the greatest of singing voices but her fairy godmother anthem was super.
Phil Reid, Buttons, had the audience in his hand and responded quickly to any heckles. When he brings two men from the audience to join him on stage, his expert ventriloquism make for a side splitting spectacle. Well done those unsuspecting stars.
Charlotte Haines, is the beautiful Cinderella and oozes sweetness. James Darch, handsome Prince Charming is just that, with a few sneaky thigh slaps in timely panto fashion. Gary Watson steals many a scene with his camp portrayal of Dandini.
Graham Hoadly and Jack Land Noble give a commanding performance of the grotesque, man eating duo, the ugly sisters, Claudia and Tess. With some of the fastest costume changes.
The energy with which the main characters perform “if I were not upon the stage” made this pantomime staple fresh as the first time you see it performed. Hilarious. The scenery, costumes and lights make for a magical evening for all ages to enjoy and the uniqueness of panto can go forth for another year.