Palace Theatre, Nottingham
Runs: 2h 40m: one interval: till 5 January
If you love panto, you won’t want to miss this one!
There’s no anarchic messy scene in this Cinderella. Nor is there any sweet throwing. But everything else and more is present and correct. It might be the best pantomime from the Palace Theatre Mansfield for at least three years, which is saying a lot.
What strikes one most is the quality of song and dance, both high-class. Somewhat unusually for Cinders herself, Olivia Birchenough has a strident and assertive voice with terrific attack. Her solos with Prince Charming (Chris Warner Drake), notably the one based on that Queen number, Somebody to Love, are terrific.
Also unusual in a panto, the brilliant live music – Mike Turnbull (Keyboard) and Phil Johnson (Drums/Percussion) – is never allowed to swamp the lyrics. Every word can be perfectly understood. Uncalled for American accents apart, they’re a joy. Dance from everyone is especially good. It’s sharp, slick and precise – an obvious example being a routine led by Dandini (Jordan Harrington), also a fine singer.
Dandini also gets the best gag of the show. When one of the splendid Ugly Sisters (Jamie Morris and Tarot Joseph) claims to have seen him masquerading as Prince Charming, he replies, “Oh that can’t have been me. I was at Pizza Express in Woking”. Michael Chance also lends distinction to his role as the florid-faced and put-upon Baron Hardup, as does Melanie Walters, as an excitable and enthusiastic Fairy Godmother.
Adam Moss, a first-rate all-round funnyman and entertainer, is back for a third year as Buttons. Besides binding the evening together, he’s notably good in the to and fro messenger sketch with the Ugly Sisters. The whole routine is brilliantly done.
And on press night it fell to Moss to call the otherwise sensible Andrew Tucker up on stage to mark his upcoming retirement from 25 years as Cultural Services Manager at the Palace. Moss also persuaded him to join in a dance routine with the audience.
It goes without saying that costumes are fabulous, as is the coach, drawn by a real, white Shetland pony.
If you love panto, you won’t want to miss this one.
Fairy Godmother: Melanie Walters
Cinderella: Olivia Birchenough
Baron Hardup: Michael Chance
Lily Hardup: Jamie Morris
Daisy Hardup: Tarot Joseph
Buttons: Adam Moss
Prince Charming: Chris Warner Drake
Dandini: Jordan Harrington
Villagers: Samuel Baines, Dan Eyre, Charley Hart, Jess Lee, Libby McGarry, Aliana Taylor
Juveniles From: Directions Theatre Arts and Syncopation Performing Arts
Director: Sarah Redmond
Choreographer: Kirsty Sparks
Musical Director: Mike Turnbull
Lighting Designer: Kevin Greene
Written By: Andrew Ryan