There was a big sparkly opening for Cinderella when Lesley Joseph flew in on a flying glittery moon and introduced herself to the packed house as the Fairy Godmother. After that bit of pure kitsch it was panto all the way to its expected happy ending, writes Michael Holland.
Yes, it’s Cinderella and her Ugly Sisters, played beautifully grotesque by Graham Hoadly and Jack Land Noble enjoying more costume changes than Beyoncé in concert, and both out to ruin their little sister’s life. Fortunately, Cinders has the love of Buttons minding her back. Unfortunately, Buttons is not as clever as he would like to be so having the Fairy Godmother keeping a watchful eye on proceedings ensures things go smoothly… Most of the time. But it is the ups and downs that make Panto such a joy.
We all know the tale of Cinderella and the Prince meeting fleetingly and falling head over heels in love before having the chance to exchange names and numbers. The show bounces between camp and kitsch quite happily, and provides fun for families of all ages. There are some standout scenes, such as Cinderella and her Prince Charming arriving in a beautiful silver coach pulled by Shetland Ponies, the adorable dancing children from the Laura Bruce Dance Academy, Buttons’ (Phil Reid) comic skit with two audience members, and the very clever song and ‘dance’ near the end where Buttons gets prodded, poked and hit in the face with a frying pan. And, of course, Ms Joseph gives us her vamp schtick, even appearing as Dorien – a disguise to sneak into the ball.
Charlotte Haines in the eponymous role brings unblemished beauty and a crystal clear singing voice to the show and is the ideal counter for her very blemished sisters, Claudia and Tess. There is a good smattering of local drama school students receiving top class experience here; and a finely tuned ensemble keeping the show vibrant at all times.
Every child should see a pantomime at Christmas and this one will tick all the boxes and press all the right buttons.
Cinderella is on at Churchill Theatre, High Street, Bromley, BR1 1HA until December 30th. Times: Tues – Sun Various times. Admission: £18 – £40. Phone: 020 3285 6000
Photos: Craig Sugden.