Theatre Royal, Nottingham
Runs: 2h 30m: one interval: till 5 January
A great show. Surely a box office smash.
If the press-night audience response to this pantomime was a reliable pointer – and it surely was – Nottingham’s Theatre Royal has a box office smash on its hands. From start to finish of this Cinderella there isn’t a flat moment.
There are lots of funny local references – Mansfield up the road, a regular target, takes an early smacking from Buttons, Richard Cadell. Helped out of course by Sooty, Cadell’s magic tricks are excellent. His humour isn’t based on the usual slick and smooth school of comedy – in this context it’s the better for it. And his free shower scene is willingly assisted by some of the ushers.
Song and dance in this one are outstanding, especially some highly original hoofing, which includes break dancing, tap, and somersaults done by The Theatre Royal Babes. Hannah Grace Lawson’s Cinderella, along with being well acted, is beautifully sung. And Gareth Gates’s voice is perfectly suited for the role of Prince Charming. Their duets are excellent. One of them gets gatecrashed by Buttons and ends in a three-way fracas. A glamorous Fairy Godmother, Kimberley Blake, is also in terrific voice.
The Ugly Sisters, Michaela and Phelina (Les Dennis and Connor McIntyre), are funny. One of many well aimed topical gags comes when either Michaela or Phelina quips about an exhausted Prince Charming, “For a prince, he doesn’t sweat much, does he!”. As a change from The Twelve Days of Christmas, there’s a hilarious and brilliantly worked-out, If I Were Not in Hard-up Hall performed by the Sisters along with Prince Charming and Buttons.
Costumes are splendid. So is the live music from the Theatre Royal Orchestra. At the start of press night, the music tended to drown out the lyrics, but this will doubtless be put right.
There’s a wholly refreshing absence of computer generated or 3-D effects in this production. Even strong men in the audience were gladdened and delighted when, at the end of the first half, Cinderella, and her coach and horses driven by Buttons soared up into the starlit sky. It was an outstanding moment in a great show.
Michaela: Les Dennis
Phelina: Colin McIntyre
Prince Charming: Gareth Gates
Buttons: Richard Cadell
Fairy Godmother: Kimberley Blake
Cinderella: Hannah Grace Lawson
Dandini: Jack McNeil
Ensemble: Zachary Adlam, Lori Barker, Jordan Goodenough, Gary Lee, Lee Pratt, Jeanie Ryan, Harriet Samuel-Gray, Ellie Seaton
Babes: The Theatre Royal Babes
Director: Guy Unsworth
Choreographer: Fabian Aloise
Musical Supervisor: Gary Hind
Lighting Designer: Nick Richings