Reviewed by Emma Legge with her very own princess, Florence aged 5
Cinderella – ‘The Fairy Godmother of all pantomimes!’
The yearly pantomime at Birmingham Hippodrome is always an eagerly anticipated event but this year there was a general feeling that it really had stepped up a level with the debut of Beverley Knight’s pantomime career. The atmosphere in the theatre awaiting the start of the show was palpable, with a real anticipation to see how this world class singer would fare in her role as the Fairy Godmother. And she did not disappoint, there’s nothing quite like seeing a superstar floating over the audience dressed in a stunning gown to kick off a pantomime spectacular!
However, the arrival of Matt Slack as Buttons stole the show completely. This is Matt’s 5th consecutive year at Birmingham Hippodrome and his 16th with the panto’s producers Qdos Entertainment. Matt is recognised as one of the country’s leading panto comics and he fully deserves that title. Florence and I went to the show, full of excitement at seeing Beverley Knight, Danny Mac (Prince Charming) and Suzanne Shaw (Cinderella) but within minutes we were completely won over by Slack and Florence was jumping in her seat with excitement and giggles at his hilarious jokes (luckily, she didn’t understand a few of them!)
Add the Grumbleweeds to the cast and you have the perfect mix-up of stars and talent for what is probably one of the biggest and best of the UK’s pantos this year. I questioned the parts of the Grumbleweeds comic roles next to such a comic star as Slack but they were hilarious in their own right and added a different dimension of slapstick. A scene where one of them duets with Knight fantastically while the other one tries to scupper his performance by using a remote control to turn off the set off alarms, turn all the lights off, create mini explosions and generally wreak havoc was one of the funniest scenes of the night almost bringing me to tears of laughter and Florence was squealing in delight!
Suzanne Shaw and Danny Mac both sing and dance spectacularly but definitely aren’t the main attention of the show with such strong comedy acts and an A class singer. But that does not deviate from the talent they bring to the stage and one scene with Danny Mac and Matt Slack competing in a dance off was the highlight of the night for me. A chance to see Danny Mac’s dancing talent balanced superbly with Slack’s comedy dancing.
Ceri Dupree and David Dale must earn themselves a mention for their roles as the ugly sisters, probably Florence’s favourite cast members (next to the Fairy Godmother) mainly for their outrageously over the top costumes of which there were a lot and their deliberately silly acting.
Now the highlight for Florence was the ending for reasons that are about to become very obvious to you and I mention purely to show the organisation and care that goes into this particular scene. We’d made our way to our seats at the start of the show, a steward had noticed Florence dressed in her fairy godmother dress complete with tiara and wand and had asked me if she was confident at which she piped up, ‘yes, I am!’ So, in the interval we joined two other children and their mums and were taken behind the scenes to meet with Matt Slack who would be inviting the children on to the stage. I’d never thought anything more of the art of the traditional pantomime, thinking that the children simply step up when called but actually there is a lot of thought, care and time put into the children knowing exactly what was going to happen. Slack was fantastic with them and filled them in on a secret that would be happening when they were up on stage. So it was with delight and huge excitement that Florence and her 2 new friends got to go up onto such an iconic stage with the main man of panto himself. I’m not going to reveal what the secret was but it was absolutely brilliant, an edge of your seat moment and worth going to this particular pantomime just to see!
There were no unnecessary scenes at all, no unnecessary cast or moments, everything really was pretty perfect. Without a doubt the best panto I’ve ever been to and as it was Florence’s first ever pantomime, I’m not sure how she’s ever going to top it, aside from booking tickets for next year at The Hippodrome!
I asked Florence how many points out of 5 we should give it and she said 100! But seeing as that’s not allowed we give it 5 very sparkly gold stars!
Tickets cost from £15.50 (booking fees may apply).
Cinderella is at the Birmingham Hippodrome from 19 December 2017 to 28 January 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.birminghamhippodrome.com or call the box office on 0844 338 5000.
Birmingham Hippodrome, Hurst St, Southside, Birmingham, B5 4TB | 0844 338 5000