Reviewed by Nigel Chester
The festive season is upon us, so with great excitement, we headed to the Nottingham Playhouse to see this year’s pantomime, Cinderella. The thirty-fourth pantomime written and directed by octogenarian, Kenneth Alan Taylor for the Playhouse.
This year Nottingham City Transport sponsored the event and they were shamelessly plugged throughout, I do wish however, that I had been aware of their timetable and park and ride services prior to the performance, as our chosen car park was closed, not knowing Nottingham, this made for a stressful start; however, once we arrived at the theatre, we were welcomed by a warm, child friendly atmosphere. In the foyer, a fabulous array of costumes and props for the littlest members of the audience, glittering shoes, tiaras, crowns and pumpkins. Also in the atrium, was a comprehensive range of goods to buy, including the programme, reasonably priced at £3 or two for £5.
With so many excited children and adults to be seated, it could have been chaos, in reality, the front of house staff ensured that everyone was seated quickly and safely.
Settling in to our clean and comfortable seats, the iron was beautifully decorated with the single word, Cinderella, and it glittered and sparkled in the lights. We knew that we were going to be in for a treat as it rose, and the orchestra struck up. The tradition of the dancing chorus was adhered to in the striking opening scene, however, on this occasion, the chorus were woodland creatures, cute and amazing, the squirrels, hedgehogs, foxes and badgers danced.
There is something quite magic about the formulaic construction of pantomime and to begin with, this panto delivered. Buttons, played by Tim Frator, was one of the undoubted stand-out performers whose rendition of “somewhere over the rainbow” was perfect. We were treated to many songs, some of which were just fun, others helped to move the plot along.
In quite a modern twist, there was no wicked Step-mother (how many Step-parents were in the audience?) just a nasty Auntie who favoured Cinderella’s two Half-sisters, so no Step-siblings either. The ugly sisters were not overly mean or cruel, of course they did stop Cinderella from going to the ball, but no hearth scrubbing for our heroine. The sisters took on a duel dame role, the principal sister, Bella (John Elkington) was as good a dame as you’re likely to see, and Donna (Darren Southworth) was the Laurel to his Hardy.
The costumes were outstanding and numerous, as you would expect from this professional production, the props were skilful, with moving transportation of many modes, not just the Nottingham City Transport bus which was advertising next year’s pantomime, Robin Hood and Babes in the Woods. The outstanding transport of the evening was the transformation of pumpkin to coach, it was a real fairy tale.
We enjoyed ourselves, we danced in the aisles, we sang, we shouted “he’s behind you” but we never really had the fear of the villain or the triumph of good over evil, even Disney managed to have a real villain, this production was sweetened and sanitised and for us lost something along the way, but the six-year-old with us, had eyes like saucers and didn’t stop talking about it all the way home.
Tickets cost from £23 (booking fees may apply).
Cinderella is at the Nottingham Playhouse from 1 December 2017 to 20 January 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.nottinghamplayhouse.co.uk or call the box office on 0115 941 9419.
Nottingham Playhouse, Wellington Circus, Nottingham, NG1 5AF | 0115 941 9419