ComedyFamilyFestive 18/19North East & YorkshirePantomimeReview

Cinderella – City Varieties, Leeds

Director: Matt Aston

Writer: Peter Rowe

Reviewer: Ruth Jepson

Tired of hearing Princesses sing Let It Go, or This is Me? Want a bit more rock and roll with your Pantomime? But still after that traditional feel? Cinderella The Rock n’ Roll Panto in Leeds is definitely the show for you!

The story has been tweaked slightly – Cinderella (Grace Lancaster) is still the poor daughter of Baron Hardup (Dyfrig Morris) and best friend of foolish bellhop Buttons (Kenny Davies), but in this version, her father is hosting the royal ball for Prince Charming (Alex Wingfield). Dandini (Tom Connor) is a rock God, and the evil Stepmother Rubella de Zees (Katia Sartini) is the Baron’s mail-order bride and has dragged along the Ugly Step Sisters, Verruca (Scott Haining) and Hernia (Matthew Hinchcliffe) for good measure. Also, the Fairy Godmother (Rachel Nottingham) plays a saxophone! Although to be fair, the entire cast doubles as the band, which makes Cinderella The Rock n’ Roll Panto even more impressive. 

The cast are excellent, and the script crackles with one-liners and a healthy dose of dirty innuendos (although rest assured most of them go over the children’s heads completely). There is the slight issue of The Prince definitely owing Cinderella an apology and instead being a bit too coercive for the #metoo age, but otherwise, the updates to the story have worked brilliantly, even if the rule of three repeats gets a little, well, repetitive! The set and costumes by designer Judith Croft are gorgeous, especially the female characters’ dresses, which blend rockabilly fashion with Pantoland couture. The music is fabulous, blending seamlessly with the action, although some songs could have benefitted from being trimmed down to keep the audience engagement. Special mention must go to Connor as Dandini, whose hips have been stolen from Elvis; Ugly Sisters Haining and Hinchcliffe, whose rendition of It’s Raining Men shows they should be auditioning for Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK, and Leo Elso as The Messenger, for pure scene-stealing overacting.

Overall, Cinderella The Rock n’ Roll Panto comes highly recommended and is a refreshing change from the formulaic layout of most Pantomimes of recent years. Grab your saxophone, and get to Leeds.

Runs until Sunday 13th January 2019 | Image: Contributed

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  1. Save your money. The only good things were the costumes and set, they were very impressive. The actors, especially Rachel Nottingham (fairy goodmother) and Katia Sartini (evil stepmum) unfortunately were not a good choice for the roles. Their voices were off, and Mrs Nottingham never really seemed to be able to keep up the pace with the others. Shame because i usually love pantos.

  2. Just returned from seeing this panto….we go to the panto at City Varieties every year at this beautifully restored historic theatrical venue….this production was excellent….wonderful talented cast who gave their all….very funny script…great music delivered with verve…..the audience loved it….highly recommended

  3. We go every year, and this was one of the best. Not sure what people expect from a panto, but there is a hint in the title. It’s Rock and Roll. Our party was aged from 6 to 67, and we all loved it. Always impressed how the actors play all the instruments. It doesn’t cost a fortune either. It’s Leeds, not London. You don’t have to take out a mortgage for interval ice-creams.

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