Writers: Michael Harrison and Brian Conley
Director: Kathryn Rooney
Reviewer: Maggie Constable
We all know so well the traditional fairytale story that is Cinderella but for a month at Milton Keynes Theatre families from all over will be lucky enough to be part of the spectacle that is QDos Productions’ version of Cinderella, starring the renowned actor and comedian, Brian Conley, no less AND Mr Gok Wan, chef, fashionista, autobiographical author and wit!
Stop the sweeping and polishing, oh Cinders, as your world is about to change, much as it will for all the families, particularly the children, who come to join Cinderella and her pals in their special world of fun, frolics, romance and much more. It’s not “behind you”!
Gok Wan, in the role of fairy Gokmother, gets the chance to show off his fashion guru skills along with his sassy charm, charisma and panache. And some singing to boot.
Brian Conley, who has starred at Milton Keynes in both Barnum and Hairspray, both to great acclaim, gives us his special brand of humour, much appreciated on British TVs performing the main part of young(?) Buttons. Wow does he deliver; just the right amount of one-liners and jokes, a great singing voice and superb comic timing. He and Gok clearly have got working together down to a fine art, having previously been paired together in pantos – fab interactions and they are obviously enjoying themselves, which is infectious. Conley was also very good with the young girls from the audience who came up on stage at the end.
As the eponymous heroine of our pantomime, we have Lauren Hall, a very pretty Cinders with a charming voice and manner, even if she could do with a tad more personality at times. Her interactions with Prince Charming, brought to us by Matthew Goodgame, are sound but there is not much chemistry. Nevertheless, Goodgame has a powerful and melodic singing voice and some charm.
The wonderful and ever-drole Ugly Sisters, Tess and Claudia (recognise that pairing from somewhere?) are portrayed by Ben Stock and Neal Wright respectively and boy (or rather girl!) do they do so in style, in their fantastic and colourful costumes, and with effortless humour and pizazz. Dandini, portrayed tonight by Matthew Malthouse, is an easy rôle to play and an easygoing character, which Malthouse certainly reflects. The ensemble dance and sing extremely well, playing a range of roles too.
David Lane’s orchestra is spot on and there is a good choice of popular songs in the show for all ages and predilections.
Kathryn Rooney’s direction is sharp and there is good pace throughout, despite an hour-long first act. Ian Westbrook and 3D Creations are responsible for the huge variety of sets and settings/scenery and all of these are most effective and delightfully apt.
Mike Coltman’s speciality costumes are marvellous, especially those of the Ugly Sisters. A blaze of colour at every scene.
Certainly one of the best pantomimes at Milton Keynes Theatre in recent years. Something for all the family and more. Not to be missed, especially by children.
Runs until 14 January 2018 | Image: Contributed