“Ohhhhh Yes it’s Panto Time!” declares the pink programme for the Middleton Arena’s Cinderella, and it’s not lying.
This is a panto with all the fillings and fittings, men in drag, ‘it’s behind you’, ventriloquist dummies, princes pretending to be somebody else…, so that the end result barely hangs together, like an overly decorated wedding cake. Is that a problem?
This is a production which is at its strongest when it’s going through the pantomime chunks, with Rollo, as Cinderella’s friend Buttons, pulling off some hilarious bits of stand-up and picking up some of the slack with his panto chops.
And there is a fair amount of slack from the poorly paced dialogue, inaudible jokes and shaky Ugly Sisters, although Chris Aukett did get more into groove in the second half. No clue why the prince wanted to pretend to be a commoner and no clue why they were hunting for ghosts in Cinderella.
But it’s hugely fun, kids in the audience brought to a fever pitch and the musical numbers have beautiful singing and slick dancing, alongside backdrops made mainly out of glitter.
Sarah Smith is an awesome stage presence with a soulful voice, and the child dancers from the Anita Tymcyshym School of Dancing were not only adorable, but just really good.
So it’s stumbling and extravagant, but this is a fab panto let down slightly by some clunky production, which works great where it matters the most.
Reviewer: Tobias Chapple