Writer: Eric Potts
Director: George Wood
Choreographer: Damien Delaney
Reviewer: Maggie Constable
“Oh yes he is!”, the inimitable scene-stealer Louie Spence is at Milton Keynes Theatre for Cinderella, the Panto this year, reprising his rôle as a dazzling Dandini, the Prince’s faithful but wild and sassy P.A or Aide de Camp, tres camp. He is panto perfect.
The panto features all the usual “suspects” – a charming Prince, the cruel and gender-switched Ugly Sisters, loveable sidekick Buttons, the benevolent and magical Fairy Godmother, Baron Hardup and, of course, Cinderella herself. It is the traditional panto story that everybody knows and loves so well with plenty of laughs and audience interaction, even some animals but no spoilers here…..
Louie Spence’s dancing and energy are sublime, to say nothing of his high kicks. He pretty much holds the first half of the show together. He has some very naughty one liners, oft more for the adults than for the children but always very funny and smartly delivered. Deniece Pearson has a cracking voice as the Fairy Godmother, reminiscent at times of our Whitney, but her acting is a tad lacklustre and at the start of the production she was clearly having trouble with her lines. She was obviously much more at ease in the second half.
Playing Cinderella, the beautiful Anna Williamson does a very decent job and has a lovely voice. Her duet with the Prince, singing the Calling’s song Wherever You May Go, was super and with great harmonies from both. Andrew Derbyshire, in the rôle of Prince Charming, gives a sound performance and has a resonant voice and plenty of stage presence.
John Barr and Paul Burnham provide the giggles, boos and silliness as the Ugly Sisters, Pixie and Peaches. They, too, have some sharp lines but don’t always manage to take the audience along with them. Buttons is played by comedy star Kev Orkian and he does a great job as general MC for the show and it was he who really kept the second half going, working tirelessly and eventually succeeding in getting proper audience reactions. Again some good one-liners and some extra off-the-cuff remarks which work well. He was also excellent with the children brought up on stage. A more than solid performance and a talented pianist/singer.
The set. and lighting are fine and the music spot on, if somewhat loud at times. Dancing from the ensemble is of a very good standard and there is some very neat choreography. A much more child-friendly show in the second half and altogether an enjoyable family, fun evening to warm everyone up on these chill Winter eves. Worth taking the children along to see. Judging by audience reactions at the end, they’ll love it…
Runs until 6 January 2013
Picture: Barry Rivett