Writer: Alan McHugh
Director: Stewart Nicholls
Reviewer: John Roberts
Describing your show as “The Greatest Pantomime of them all” is a big assumption to live up to, but QDOS Entertainment and the Crewe Lyceum have more than lived up to the hype producing, in this production of Cinderella, what could be the best pantomime in the North West.
Alan McHugh should be congratulated in writing one of the freshest and most enjoyable panto scripts that this reviewer has seen. It’s pacey, full of audience participation, the puns and innuendo come thick and fast (especially during a brilliant shopping scene) and the laughter just keeps on coming until you are fighting back the tears – the strongest pantomime writers create the show to the strength of the cast, and that is certainly true of Stewart Nicholls’ production. His direction keeps the show slick and polished, the onstage business is timed to comic perfection and Thomas Spratt’s classic choreography is incorporated seamlessly into the production.
Headlining the show is Gareth Gates, who is a perfect Prince Charming. He oozes charisma and pulls the rôle off with aplomb, even surprising the audience with many personal put downs on his past career and personal choices – self-deprecation certainly works here. Of course, an obligatory performance of Unchained Melody is delivered in perfect fashion at just the right time. Jimmy Tamley as Baron Hardup is an unassuming character and gentle in nature, but really comes into his own during the scenes where his clear passion in ventriloquism is allowed to shine – a Second Act scenethat uses audience members being a real hoot. Likewise, Rosie Glossop brings plenty of enthusiasm and joy to the rôle of the Fairy Godmother, who also is able to showcase brilliant vocals.
In the titular rôle of Cinderella, Alice Baker makes the most of the rôle; she is lovable from the off and balances the saccharine-sweet nature of the character perfectly. As double acts go, you can’t go better than Darren Southworth and Richard Foster-King as the ugly sisters – their costumes, designed by James McIvor, just as bright and hilarious as their performances, which never fail to deliver.
The show, however, should be renamed Buttons,for this is Adam C Booth’s show – this is a powerhouse performance from an actor who wins the hearts of the audience from his first energetic entrance to the final bow – he works the audience perfectly and pitches a comic performance that is rarely seen delivered with such panache in pantomime – the wall in the wood scene with Gates and Baker being a real showstopper.
If you are looking for a pantomime that provides excellent value for money, great costumes and glittering sets, a first-rate cast and plenty of laughs, then a trip to Crewe to see this magical and hilarious production is highly recommended.
Runs until 3 January 2016 | Image: Wes Webster