Writer and Director: James Barry
Reviewer: David Jobson
December is upon us and that means one thing – Pantomime. Nearly every theatre has a Christmas show on the bill. There will be pantomimes full of celebrities, innuendoes by the minute, pop songs and big special effects.
James Barry has written many pantomimes for local and amateur theatres, with Cinderella being his 12th at the Theatre Royal Winchester. The theatre’s pantomimes have varied in quality over recent years but this one proves to be a fun-filled show for the whole family.
Expect usual pantomime routines, but there’s never a dull moment and with some veteran performers returning the atmosphere and connection with the audience is exhilarating.
Andy Medhurst is performing in his fourth pantomime in a row here, playing silly-billy Buttons. His gormlessness wins over the kids as does his endless awful puns and childish pranks. Nevertheless, he has a heart of gold, always looking out for Cinderella.
Julian Eardley is no stranger to playing the dame and he embodies the role of the ugly sister with gusto. Co-starring as an ugly sister is Richard Gibson, who brings notes of his Herr Flick from ‘Allo ‘Allo to his performance. Complementing them is Rosanna Miles, who usually plays the goodie-goodie roles but has now landed the role of the evil stepmother. She relishes the role, wallowing in riches and refusing to see Cinderella as one of the family.
Emily Stangham is endearing as the unlucky fairy, trying to veer Cinderella’s fortunes in the right direction. It’s certainly a challenge with a handsome but half-witted Prince Charming, played by Bryn Lucas, forgetting to ask for Cinderella’s name and needing Dandini to do the thinking. Bronte Tadman meanwhile wins over the audience as the hapless Cinderella.
On the production values side, the creative team have stepped up their game this year. The sets are colourful and detailed and the costumes are admirably vibrant.
Simon Slater has provided some enjoyable songs, complimented by Sam Martin-Taylor’s choreography performed energetically by a group of young dancers. With a hilariously self-aware romantic number that brings to mind Spamalot, to a riff of Swan Lake, there is much to enjoy.
Some areas need working on but, for a mid-scale pantomime, Cinderella does exactly what it says on the tin, with extra flavour on top. For a traditional pantomime without the flashy special effects, this is the production for the whole family to see.
Runs until 2 January 2017 | Image: Contributed