Writer: Jon Monie
Director: Jill Williams
Pantomime lives or dies by the choices it makes, we have already seen in this region productions go on for too long losing the attention of its younger audiences, we’ve seen productions, not cast their shows correctly meaning the characters don’t really stand string on stage… thankfully here at the Floral Pavilion with this year’s production those issues don’t appear.
Cinderella is filled with energetic and engaging performers that keep the show engaging, Jon Monie’s script is littered with gags and allows for its cast to have their own unique nod into the show, Director Jill Williams (her first panto here at New Brighton) does stick to a more traditional approach to the artform, which on paper isn’t a bad thing, but the people of merseyside are risk-takers, we like a little edge to what we see on the stage.
The biggest issue with William’s production however, is the musical choices – they lack any real chance for audience participation which instantly zaps any energy the cast have worked hard to build up – sadly these parts are a real tragedy and are better best forgotten – especially as the sound balance between live pit band and hearing the vocals are so woefully mixed that it’s also hard to hear what the cast are actually singing.
CBBC’s Katrina Bryan gives a warm and enticing performance as Fairy Godmother while she leads us through the story, with plenty of magical mischief. The beautiful Bethan Jacks gives a convincing and strong performance as the sweet and kind Cinderella showcasing an excellent singing voice. Sean Jones has excellent rapport with the audience and gives a cheeky and charming portrayal of Buttons.
Ugly Sisters Melody and Harmony (Jamie Morris & Tarot Joseph) are a real hoot and their costumes totally stealing the show. Panto headliner Lee Latchford Evans looks every bit the prince charming but for a multi-million album selling pop-star (Part of the group Steps) his vocals are sub-par and struggles to meet the demands of some of the songs he’s being asked to perform.
There is plenty to enjoy here at this year’s production of Cinderella, lots of laughter, strong performance and some amazing costumes. Aaron Ashely Parker’s excellent choreography performed with conviction by its adult ensemble is also a joy to watch. It’s just sad that the song choices don’t match the rest of the production and leaves you begging for something a bit more recent and a bit more tantalising.
Runs until 2 January 2023