Writer: Alan McHugh, with additional material by Billy Pearce
Musical Director: James McCullagh
Choreographer: Stillie Dee
Director: Ed Curtis
Reviewer: Sue Collier
Bradford Alhambra’s annual pantomime is always entertaining. On entering the Theatre, one is met by a children’s choir and the friendly and believable Santa who whips up excitement for the days ahead regarding the number of sleeps left before Christmas. 3D glasses are distributed and clutched in excited anticipation by children and adults alike.
This performance is incredibly active. The Fairy Godmother (who enters on a flying moon) is played by Colleen Nolan. She has a wonderful rapport with the audience. Her singing voice is tuneful and strong. As she sings she relates a convincing story as though she is singing personally to each audience member. It is great to see Miss Nolan looking so happy and relaxed in this role. It is clear she is enjoying herself and having fun.
The role of Cinderella is played by Sarah Goggin. Though she has a strong singing voice the spoken aspect of her role would benefit from her using a stronger tone of voice. Sam Barrett as Prince Charming has a particularly good voice and is very likeable as is Shane Nolan as Dandini. There are witty references to his being the son of Colleen.
There is no single ‘baddie’. Instead, we get two for the price of one with the Ugly Sisters who are played to great effect by Graham Hoadly and Jack Land Noble.
Billy Pearce is now in his 19th consecutive pantomime season at the Alhambra, and it would be a good guess that he is invited to return year on year because his performance is consistently fresh, energetic and full of enthusiasm. Pearce is a master of the art of pantomime. As Buttons, he expertly engages his audience from the moment of his first entrance by involving them in call and response. He uses gentle humour which is funny and without vulgar adult innuendo. His jokes and references to Bradford are very well received.
The famous Bradford children’s troupe The Sunbeams are a credit to the show and offer charming, disciplined and high-quality performances.
Though the live orchestra complements the singing, as last year, one gripe is that during some scenes the song lyrics are lost beneath the volume of the orchestra.
There are several high calibre aspects of this production. The scenery and staging are faultless and are complimented by bright, fresh and visually appealing stage costumes. The spectacular visual special effects by Whizzbang 3D Productions Ltd. causes a riot of sound from the audience who enjoy a 3D walk through the enchanted forest where they are attacked by a number of flying creepy crawlies etc. The coach and horses scene is outstandingly spectacular.
This production is lacking in some of the important aspects of Pantomime tradition, such as the inclusion of the staple “It’s behind you” or children from the audience being invited on stage. An audience participation song would also enhance the production which does seem to end rather abruptly. That said, however, Cinderella is highly recommended.
Runs until 28 January 2018 | Image: Contributed