Richmond Theatre's Cinderella Dazzles

Old-fashioned fun is a hit with our reviewer!


Cinderella at Richmond Theatre
9 December 2011 - 15 January 2012

Richmond Theatre
The Green,

Box Office: 0844 871 7651

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There is no better critic to take along to a panto than a child and for this outing I took my eight-year old daughter Holly. At first she was reluctant to leave the warmth of home and television to go out on a bitterly cold evening but it didn't take her long to get into the swing of things once we had reached the theatre and the sense of excitement mounted.

Picture: Simon Annand

Christopher Duncan’s production of Cinderella is the perfect traditional panto for young children so -friendly even the programme has games and puzzles. But like all traditional pantomimes there is room for the grown-ups. I feel sure all those grandparents in the audiance were there to give themselves a treat just as much as for their grandchildren. They certainly joined in with gusto.

The set was dazzling. Designer Terry Parsons chose a blue and silver backdrop with a clock poised to strike midnight- a sparkly and silvery world of turreted castles and terrifying woods -a sort of Russian Winter Palace theme.This script is written by Eric Potts,easily the busiest man in theatre-land. This year he penned eight pantomime scripts and when not doing that, his other role is as Diggory Compton in Coronation Street.

There is the nod to the current recession with Cinderella( Kellie Shirley) and her father Baron Hard Up (Rubert Aldous) living in Hard-up Hall ,while Buttons-ably played by the charming Gary Wilmot is their handyman, languishing in unrequited love for Cinderella.

Picture: Simon Annand

Jenny Eclair,who plays the Fairy Godmother is not given a comedic role here and is largely called upon to link the scenes. The undoubted stars of the show are the ugly sisters Beatrice and Eugenie superbly played by Graham Hoadly( Beatrice) and Paul Burnham(Eugenie) . Every entrance is marked by an ostentatious display of finery, with extravagent headwear, including bowls of fruit, bananas, and at one point, a copy of that bagel hat worn by the real Princess Beatrice at the Royal Wedding. They screech, bully, and raunch their way through the evening, terrorising the Prince (Elliot Harper) and his valet Dandini –(Ben Redfern) and being mean to their stepsister Cinderella. So horrible are they that they force her to tear up her invitation to the Ball and later they trick her and lock her in a wardrobe. The young members of the audiance were outraged at their carry-on and shouted their disapproval.

Cinderella is granted her wish to go to the Ball, and transforms into Princess Crystal with a sparkly gown.Some very sweet little shetland ponies make an appearance to pull her carriage off the stage so that she can dance the night away with her handsome prince at the Castle. And of course we know what the outcome will be but first there is a hilarious scene involving a slipper, two ugly sisters, and a wooden leg!

The rather contrived jokes are part of the charm of panto. When one of the ugly man-mad sisters asks the other "What do you look for in a man? and she replies ; " A pulse", we all groaned . Rather more of the audience identified with this joke from Buttons;

"When I was young we played a game of knocking on doors and running away. It's called Parcelforce!"

The show ends up with a vibrant performance of a Bruno Mars hit ' Marry You' with much clapping and singing along.

This is a First Family Entertainment production for the Ambassadors Theatre group and the company specialises in showcasing traditional pantomime. So what you get for your money is a great ensemble performance by the cast, some very sweet juvenile actors, energetic dancers and a generally high feelgood factor. Definitely a good night all for all the family.

The show runs at the Richmond Theatre until January 15, 2012.

Anne Flaherty

December 22, 2011

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