Writer: Alan McHugh
Director: Guy Unsworth
Reviewer: James Garrington
It’s panto time in Nottingham. This year’s offering at the Theatre Royal is Cinderella – and it’s everything that we’ve come to expect from a Theatre Royal panto. A star-studded cast, beautiful costumes and stunning special effects are the order of the day, and this panto has them all.
Headlining this year are Coronation Street’s Les Dennis and Connor McIntyre as the Ugly Sisters, Michaela and Phelina, complete with grotesque makeup, outlandish costumes and risqué humour. McIntyre (Phelina) comes across as the more evil of the two, with some gloriously evil threatening expressions and delivery to match. Dennis does a credible job as Michaela, though with a tendency to come across as maybe a little too nice at times. That aside, they work together well and give good value.
Among the other recognisable faces on stage we have Gareth Gates, 17 years since Pop Idol and now well established as a theatre performer. Gates looks and sounds every inch the Prince Charming, with a beautiful singing voice that we get to hear too little of in this production, though the numbers he does get to sing he delivers extremely well. As his love interest, Hannah Grace Lawson is a suitably sweet Cinderella, singing and moving well when she is given the opportunity to. Kimberly Blake is also in good voice as the Fairy Godmother, while Jack McNeill makes the most of his relatively small role as Dandini.
Bringing it all together is Richard Cadell as Buttons, complete with his more famous sidekick Sooty. Cadell does a good line in comedy and has a pleasant voice, but what really stands out is the magic that he performs. Cadell was better known for his magic routines before he took over Sooty, and we get to experience some of his spectacular performance on stage at the Theatre Royal.
It’s not all perfect of course – panto seldom is. Some of the humour is a little dated, some of the acting may not be top-notch, but that’s not what panto is about. Inevitably things go wrong, too – perhaps more than would be ideal – but it’s all good fun and the cast deals with it all with good humour when necessary and it simply turns into yet another joke.
With its fair share of slapstick, including a memorable wall routine, the expected anarchy of the If I were not upon this stage routine and the always unpredictable moment when children are invited onto the stage, there’s something here for adults as well as younger audience members. Then, of course, there’s the spectacle and being Cinderella we have a flying carriage and horses that soars out over the audience, creating gasps of amazement.
It’s a fun night out, with something for all ages – so grab your glass slippers and get ready to go to the ball.
Runs until 5 January 2020 Image: Whitefoot Photography