Writer: Andrew Ryan
Director: Andrew Margerison
Reviewer: John Roberts
UK Productions have over the past few years produced some of the most engaging pantomimes in the region and this year’s production of Cinderella is as expected charming and sweet – good for a quick burst of energy but sadly leaves you wanting a little more from it.
In the titular role Olivia Birchenough from Milkshake! more than excels, her singing voice is strong, she engages the audience perfectly and provides an enchanting presence on the stage, her chemistry with Tam Ryan as Buttons is sublime. Ryan is no stranger to pantomime and it shows, having jumped ship from the larger pantomimes what is First Family’s loss is most definitely
UK Productions’ gain. Here is a panto pro who is charming and witty and throws everything into the role. Adam Bradley is one of the strongest pantomime princes’ this reviewer has seen, dashingly handsome and can belt out a cracking good tune too, likewise, he is ably joined by George Onley as his righthand-man Dandini. Big Brother’s Alison Hammond is a delightful fairy godmother and certainly warms into the role as the performance progresses. Gary Davis as Cinderella’s father Baron Hardup is pleasant enough but having him sing opera throughout starts to grate very quickly.
Any production of Cinderella is won or lost by the strength of its ugly sisters, visually Jamie Morris and Tarot Joseph as Silly Lily and Daisy Hardup are sensational, this is drag queen finery at its finest, sadly their performance feels a little lacklustre and flat… it could be that the pair needs a more adult audience than a theatre full of school children, but one would expect with their performance credentials to be able to adapt quickly and easily enough to accommodate this.
Director Andrew Margerison keeps the production floating along at a nice pace and finds great moments in the production to insert a musical number that, on the whole, sound great under the musical baton of Tom Chester and his three-piece pit band; however, some of the choices feel a little too quirky and almost not modern enough to really engage the younger members of the audience. Lee Lomas’ choreography is clean and crisp if a little repetitive… However the shows biggest fault is the set, this year it feels like New Brighton has received the offcuts of other pantomimes, there isn’t a clear style to the show and backdrops don’t coherently sit together, so it is down to Andy Green’s bright and colourful lighting design to save the day.
Cinderella is a pleasant enough panto and you will certainly enjoy it, especially for the performances but sadly, this year, it’s lacking the attention to detail that makes a good pantomime great.
Runs until 8 January 2017 | Image: David Edwards