Dancing pumpkins? Check! Plenty of laughter? Check! A multi-talented cast to bring it all to life? Check! The New Victoria Theatre’s pantomime has plenty to entertain – but doesn’t offer that many surprises.
The only true way to see if a pantomime is a success or not is to judge by the reactions of those sitting around you. In this case, the New Victoria Theatre’s latest production of Cinderella is certainly warmly received in terms of the humour and the characterisations but is lacking that extra bit of sparkle in terms of the story.
Although Alan McHugh’s book keeps the story traditional, it can feel a little bit flat in places, particularly when it comes to the final scene when the identity of Cinderella is revealed. But despite this, there is still plenty of fun to be found in the additional material provided by Paul Chuckle and Phil Butler that never fails to deliver of laughs for children and adults alike – with the sequence in which Buttons (Phil Butler) reveals his plan to appear on the X Factor providing some of the loudest laughs of the evening.
Much of the show has been built around Craig Revel Horwood as Baroness Demonica Hardup – marking his entrances with the Strictly Come Dancing theme as well as having the stepsisters called Claudia and Tess. His performance is delightfully wicked, delivering his lines with a dry sense of humour that we have come to expect from him as well as allowing him the chance to wear some completely fabulous costumes that make the character truly stand out.
But it has to be said that there is great enthusiasm and energy from all of the cast that shows the depth of their commitment to the characters and to ensuring that everyone consistently has a good time. Sophie Isaacs is a delightfully charming Cinderella, perfectly matched with Oliver Savile as Prince Charming – both offering strong characterisations. It is also a real delight to see Paul Chuckle on stage once again as Barron Hardup, showing real care and attention to his performance to ensure the audience has a great time, while his banter with Paul Butler as Buttons offers a nice chemistry between the pair. The characterisations of all of the cast made the production feel authentic and lively.
Michael Gyngell’s production is sharp and pacy throughout, with plenty to offer the adults and the children to make for great family entertainment. It has plenty of dancing pumpkins, silliness and songs to keep everybody happy – despite the bareness of the script in places.
Overall, this production of Cinderella has a strong cast who bring the show to life with great commitment to make this a delight to watch – as proven by the warm reception it was received by the audience both young and old. Sweet and charming it is a wonderful Christmas treat.
By Emma Clarendon
Cinderella continues to play at the New Victoria Theatre until the 6th January 2019. To book tickets visit ATG Tickets.