Writer/Director: James Shone
Musical Director: Will Henshall
Choreographer: Jamie-Leigh Christian
Reviewer: Janet Jepson
There’s true magic down at the Civic Theatre in Rotherham over this festive season. The pantomime this year is Cinderella, maybe the most special of all the Christmas stories and probably the most popular, for everyone from toddlers to grannies.
This performance from Shone Productions Ltd certainly doesn’t disappoint anyone, except maybe poor Kieran in the second row who was picked on mercilessly throughout the show. It is packed with well-known modern songs, all the usual jokes as well as some new ones, lovely dancers, and yes, a smattering of real magic involving big boxes.
It all begins to the sound of children’s excited chattering, as the large glitter ball circles, casting sparkles of light around the theatre, with twinkling candelabras adding to the effect. The opening scene in the village is a proper 3D one with separate shops down the stage, and dancers weaving in and out in traditional pretty country style costumes. It’s all so nice and comforting. We meet the characters, with a cheery “Air-Hair-Lair” as camp young Dandini (aka talented Ben Millerman) declares, and we realise We’re all in this together whatever happens. But never mind, the Fairy Godmother – or “Hairy Gobstopper” as Buttons is prone to calling her – is Maureen Nolan, her comfortable Irish brogue soothing everyone, and the Prince is a proper male in real trousers.
There’s the slapstick scene with plenty of water and foam and a good singsong is had on a bench with a ghost. Was it scripted for that Ugly Sister to fall off backwards in a spectacular fashion and lose his elaborate wig? Maybe not, judging by uncontrollable giggles from the cast…
The action romps on, the cast get dressed up for a ball and time flies by. Can the clock really be striking midnight so soon? The scene everyone waits for, as with every performance of Cinderella, is the appearance of the fairy tale carriage; cleverly done to project a flying image.
The cast has a whale of a time, and their enjoyment is infectious. Sophie Wysoczanski and Carl Tracey make a true fairytale couple as Cinderella and her Prince, with both the looks and the voices to capture the rôles. Chris Aukett and Andy Brennan are wonderful Ugly Sisters: one with stilettos and good legs …and one without. They both wear incredible wigs alongside colourful outrageous, but not overdone, costumes, and exhibit just the right level of menace to not spook the kids. Sean Rollason as Buttons is a true professional, a real comic with perfect timing, who takes the audience into his pocket. His witticisms appeal to all ages, and he’s immensely likeable. The dancers, both tall and small, are very talented, and with the exception of a couple of slips, smile engagingly throughout their numbers. They get to wear some wonderful costumes too.
Go along to get acquainted with Cinderella in Rotherham, it’ll lift your spirits and provide a getaway, if only for a few hours. You’ll gasp at the sparkles, laugh at the endless jokes and sing about being happy. Maybe there’s no guarantee that Kieran will be there to stand in for the ventriloquist’s dummy with a larger than life mouth, but surely someone will oblige. Oh yes, he will.
Runs until 10 January 2016 | Image: Shone Productions Ltd