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Cinderella - Theatre Royal, Plymouth

Published by: Steve Burbridge on 26th Jan 2009 | View all blogs by Steve Burbridge

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Cinderella

Theatre Royal, Plymouth

Cinderella is ‘the greatest pantomime of them all!’ exclaim the posters and handbills at Plymouth Theatre Royal. Well, I’m always slightly sceptical about such tag-lines and I prefer to make my mind up for myself, thank you very much.

However, on this occasion, I must confess that the proclamation is absolutely spot-on. I should have known, really. After all, with this production having been written and directed by the King Midas of Qdos Pantomimes, Michael Harrison, and starring the sensational Lesley Joseph, it couldn’t be anything other than pure gold.

Michael Harrison has given audiences a production that exudes quality, sophistication and spectacle - not a corner has been cut, nor a penny pinched. The script retains the charm of the original fairy tale by Charles Perrault, but is given a spectacular 21st century make-over with stunning special effects, lavish scenery and sets and fabulous costumes.

Lesley Joseph, one of this country’s most popular and versatile actresses, plays the Fairy Godmother and she magically flies onto the stage on a crescent moon. Miss Joseph, a panto favourite with audiences up and down the country, delivers a performance that is more than just a little reminiscent of Dorien from Birds of a Feather, one of her best-loved characters. Never taking herself too seriously, she incorporates slapstick, parody and elements of vaudeville into her interpretation of the role, delighting the audience in the process.

Matt Slack hurls himself wholeheartedly into the role of Buttons, arriving in an aeroplane and soaring straight into the hearts of the kids in the audience with his affable nature and cheeky charm. His talent for mimicry and physical comedy garners lots of laughs and his antics in the scenes with Lesley Joseph are hilarious.

Laura Evans plays the title role of Cinderella and is a delight as the heroine. Blessed with angelic beauty and a singing voice to match, she brings to the role a warmth and innocence that works wonderfully.

David Robbins and Martin Ramsdin don the frocks and false eyelashes to play the Ugly Sisters, Trinny and Susannah. Robbins, in his prosthetic nose, could be mistaken for Cherie Blair’s prettier sister and Ramsdin bears a slight resemblance to Vicky Pollard. Their costumes, wigs and head-dresses are fabulously outlandish and the pair make a hugely entertaining double-act.

Trevor Jary plays Prince Charming and Kevin Brewis is his effeminate valet, Dandini. Jary is the archetypal hero and shines in his musical numbers, whilst Brewis skilfully adopts the mannerisms and traits of the late Kenneth Williams to convey Dandini’s foppishness.

The ensemble perform energetically in the musical scenes which are effectively choreographed by Jon Bowles.

The Theatre Royal Babes are cast as Lesley Joseph’s troupe of little trainee fairies, Whitney, Britney, Myleene and Biggins, and they almost steal the scene from her in the number, Spread a Little Happiness.

However, it is the stunning transformation scene that has the audience gasping in wonder and amazement as Lesley Joseph, singing Anything’s Possible, waves her fairy wand and a golden invitation descends in a mini hot air balloon, before a cloud of dry ice and a pyrotechnic display herald the arrival of a glittering coach and an animated flying Pegasus. This is the stuff that magic is made of, sheer entertainment!

This production has raised the benchmark for all future professional pantomimes and should serve as a warning to other inferior production companies that Michael Harrison and Qdos Pantomimes intend to retain their position as the UK’s biggest and best pantomime production company.

It must be acknowledged, though, that amazing special effects, sumptuous sets, spectacular costumes and sparkling script would count for nothing without a consummate cast of actors to carry the story and engage with the audience – Cinderella ticks all the right boxes and its star, Lesley Joseph, emerges, triumphantly, as the undisputed Queen of Pantoland. Bravo!

Steve Burbridge.

Performances

Friday 19th December 2008 – Saturday 24th January 2009

Running Time

2 hours, 30 minutes (including interval) approximately

PLEASE NOTE: Performances of this production have now ended!

 

 

 

 

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