Magical and warming with a bucket-load of Nottingham spirit, Kenneth Alan Taylor’s Cinderella is a show that doesn’t fail to fulfil your pantomime needs. Despite following the traditional tale, it is a personalised play which acts almost as an initiation to Christmas in Nottingham; every inside joke hitting the audience in all the right places. As you are led by the characters through the well-known story, outrageous costumes and unexpected music choices keep your attention fixed, adding colour to what is already a radiant set.
After a frightening opening scene of dancers with furry animal heads, the panto takes off with Tim Frater, as Buttons, immediately encouraging audience involvement, and the music of the live band accompanying the arrival of each character, creating a lively and engaging atmosphere.
“Their individual acting and singing spot on”
The musical director, John Morton, and the band are extremely talented and the singing of the actors is especially noteworthy with Adam Pettigrew, Kelly Agredo and James Nicholson acing their solos and setting the musical standard high very early on. For me, Pettigrew and Nicholson’s duet of ‘Somebody to Love’ was the highlight of the first act, their comic timing and relationship so well developed and their individual acting and singing spot on. They maintained this throughout with their consistently apt interactions and a memorable rendition of Scouting for Girls’ ‘She’s So Lovely’, making Prince Charming and Dandini the stand out characters of the pantomime.
The ugly sisters, John Elkington and Darren Southworth in drag, are a source of typical slapstick humour and it is through them that members of the audience react to the play. Unprompted commentary and screams from children were not uncommon and their costume, makeup and hair was comical in itself, subscribing to the expectations of the duo. An image that sticks in my mind is when the sisters come onto stage in psychedelic 1980s sportswear, lunging and stretching. This sparked hearty laughter from the audience and their many outfit changes never fail to amuse.
“The set design is wonderful”
Tim Meacock has done an excellent job with the costumes from the horrific clothing of the sisters to the bright and colourful suits of the men and the beautifully embellished dresses of the fairy godmother and Cinderella. The set design is wonderful with ornate artwork of trees and flowers and changing backdrops of houses, sparkling forests and a magnificent palace, adding to the fairy tale element of the play. The transformation of the northern granny-like figure into the fairy godmother is also rather magical with a little boy sitting behind me saying “How did they do that?!”.
Music plays a significant role in the pantomime and the contrast between the touching moments of the ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ and Ed Sheeran’s ‘Perfect’ duets and the hilarious versions of ‘Shape of You’ and ‘Shut Up and Dance’ creates an emotional yet Ocean-esque playlist. Audience involvement is played up with children (and the new theatre owner) taking part in singing on stage near the end and one moment I will never forget is standing up and doing the stanky leg with the Sheriff of Nottingham who was sat next to me. Enough said.
“Cinderella is a fun-filled, feel-good, festive pantomime. “
It is a well and truly Nottingham-fied, homely pantomime with a couple of “Ey up me ducks”, a few jokes about Beeston and a painfully long car scene in which Nottingham City Transport gets the most out of their sponsorship. Taylor’s script not only creates a typical children’s pantomime but draws on more sophisticated humour ensuring a show perfect for any age group. Cinderella is a fun-filled, feel-good, festive pantomime.
8/10 – Excellent, highly enjoyable
Images courtesy of Nottingham Playhouse