Festive 15/16North WestPantomimeReview

Cinderella: The Panto with Soul – Theatr Clwyd, Mold

Writer: Peter Rowe

Director: Matt Aston

Reviewer: John Roberts

There’s change in the air this year at Theatr Clwyd, not only does the venue have a new artistic director but it seems someone at the top has played with the casting of this year’s Rock’n’Roll panto. Local legend Phylip Harries has been shunted out of the frocks and replaced by two hideously ugly specimens and thrust into trousers… Oh yes he has! But one shouldn’t worry too much, the panto banter that we have come to love from Harries as the Dame, is still here albeit in a different guise.

Sticking with the tried and tested routine, Cinderella has all the ingredients the audiences of Mold have come to love about their festive offering; strong multi-instrument playing actors, classic songs, plenty of local references and lots of laughs… So it’s hard not to fall under its magic spell and enjoy every minute of it.

Director Matt Alston, on the whole, has crafted a slick production, the jokes are funny, the innuendo extremely risqué (although one “slag” reference perhaps takes things a little too far), and the performers are first rate, but the production is very much one of two halves. The first is tight, the energy is high and the performers are nailing their routines, however, after the interval things start to come a little undone, perhaps it’s due to a slight underwriting of the second act by Peter Rowe, but it seems to lack that magic that makes the first half so enjoyable.

However, this is a tiny fault in what otherwise is a splendid production. The village set design by Judith Croft looks simple yet when the scene change takes place just before the interval, you can’t help but be taken aback by how slick the whole affair is, this is quite possibly the smoothest and most enjoyable scene change this reviewer has seen in a theatre.

Cinderella is played with plenty of charm by newcomer Nicola Martinus-Smith, her smile is bright and infectious and shines brighter than the star she likes to wish upon. Harries as Baron Hardup brings plenty of grimacing and laughter as he works the audience brilliantly yet again, while its a shame he’s not in a frock, he proves his weight in gold. James Haggie once again proves a popular lead as Buttons, in his cutesy romper suit and bright blue hair and certainly knows how to pull an audiences heartstring but it’s the choice to have him sound like the dirty offspring of Joe Pasquale which seems to fit rather clumsily alongside the moments he showcases his powerful vocals during his songs.

A great double act is also on show from Joe Vetch as arather tight and ridged Prince Charming and Daniel Lloyd as the new romantic Dandini. The show, however, is stolen quite rightly by Dan Bottemley and Alex Parry as ugly sisters Hernia and Veruca. The pair sizzle with sassiness and cause mayhem and mischief throughout.

As pantomimes go, Cinderella is great fun, but it is let down by a much weaker second act, but that shouldn’t put you off, this is a very funny production with a sensational cast and certainly gets you in the festive mood.

Runs until 23 January 2016 | Image: Contributed

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The North West team is under the editorship of John Roberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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