Theatre Royal: To 13 January 2013.
TICKETS: 0115 989 5555.
Review: Alan Geary: 8 December.
Packed with song and dance, laughs, glamour and spectacle – perhaps too packed. And the kiddies get left out.
Pantomimes don’t come much busier than this Cinderella. It’s packed with vastly entertaining song and dance, glamour, spectacle, and all sorts of comedy. There’s no let up. It’s a value-for-money show, no question.
But there’s a but; in fact at least two buts. There are so many excellent acts on offer they crowd each other out. For instance, the splendid Buttons (Adam C Booth) is marginalised by John Partridge’s Prince Charming; and the Ugly Sisters (Martin Ramsdin and David Robbins) – both excellent – are over-shadowed by The Grumbleweeds as the Broker’s Men.
The other problem is that there’s not a lot to keep the kiddies onside. Most of the verbal stuff isn’t even targeted at them. They might grasp some of the gags, but too many of these are clearly unsuitable for children. And the narrative thread of the fairy tale keeps getting broken, usually by another routine from the Grumbleweeds. They even interrupt the ball scene with a Bradford Working Men’s Club routine.
The Grumbleweeds deliver the best comedy. It’s striking in its variety, and outrageously funny: there’s a wonderful Ali G/Ozzy Osbourne sketch for instance. But there’s also the Ugly Sisters and their costumes and Buttons to enjoy. The statutory ghouly scene, and the Twelve Days of Christmas routine with Buttons, Baron Hardup (Paul Gabriel) and The Grumbleweeds are brilliantly done.
Costumes and scenery are breath-taking. But the most spectacular bit comes when Cinderella’s coach and flying horse rise over the auditorium on their way to the ball – and it’s snowing.
Ex-Three Degrees Sheila Ferguson’s Fairy Godmother would be leggily watchable even if she didn’t sing. But she does – impressively, particularly ‘One Moment in Time’. John Partridge’s Prince Charming is allowed to carry too much of the show. He’s very good, particularly in the song and dance, but as a male principal boy he makes the love scenes with Cinderella (a first-class turn from Aimie Atkinson) inappropriately sexual.
So this Cinderella is a big, bold show, no doubt about it. But it has its shortcomings.
Buttons: Adam C Booth.
Fairy Godmother: Sheila Ferguson.
Baron Hardup: Paul Gabriel.
Cinderella: Aimie Atkinson.
The Ugly Sisters: Martin Ramsdin, David Robbins.
Prince Charming: John Partridge.
Dandini: Chris Milford.
The Broker’s Men: The Grumbleweeds.
Ensemble: Zoe Belding, Mikaela Brinte, Aaron Brown, Sarah-Joy Davies, Jared Johnson, Laura McAllister, Scott Norton, Tom Scanlon.
Juveniles: The Theatre Royal Babes.
Director: Tudor Davies.
Lighting: Nick Richings.
Musical Director: Rick Coates.
Choreographer: Gerry Zuccarello.