CINDERELLA – reviews

“Christmas panto is primarily about fun and RWP’s production undoubtedly puts a big old tick in that box. It was, though, particularly refreshing to see a company take an old classic and add a few new touches in the form of some clever modern musical interludes, puppetry and other subtle touches… this witty, funny and thoroughly entertaining version of a familiar tale will have everyone leaving with a smile on their face”.

Cinderella
Sutton Town Hall
****
Cinderella is one of the strongest of pantomimes, and RWP have assembled a strong team to deliver it.
A big turn- out for the opening night augured well, and from the opening curtain, the cast threw themselves into the evening’s performance with gusto. Frances Richmond is the musical director, and her substantial experience is vital for this big budget production.
Andy James Michel is billed as writer director, and his skills are tested to the full as he also plays Coco, one of the ugly stepsisters, opposite Jamie Jones (Chanel). These two are the beating heart of the show, outrageous, garish and very funny. Although ostensibly the baddies, they also win the affections of everyone with their energetic performance.

This is a traditional telling, and one to which parents can take their children with confidence. Adults will enjoy the odd double entendre but the target audience, the youngsters, are the ones whose needs are met. Cast members fall over, hapless courtiers are pursued through the audience by desperate man-hunting women, and silly songs are sung.
Not that proceedings ever sink into cliché and smug self-satisfaction. Cinderella, compellingly played by the lovely Katy Gaskin, opens singing a Boo Radley’s number, a fitting showcase for her unusually strong voice, and that off-beat confidence characterises her reading of the role.
She gently lets down Buttons , Niko Adilypour, who bears a strong resemblance to Joe Pasquale in appearance and manner, in his love for her. Although Buttons doesn’t get the girl, he does win over the audience from the start, and delights whenever he appears.
Prince Charming doesn’t have to do much other than look handsome and search for Cinders, Daniel Roberts does both well, and is a good foil for Brad Walwyn’s more flamboyant Dandini. who avoids women, and pursues the owner of the famous glass slipper, with equal determination and brio.
No Cinderella is complete without a fairy godmather. Maura Judges is the perfect antidote to the brash ugly sisters, her presence and rhyme, reassuring and fine.
Technically, Cinderella delivers, and is particularly well-costumed, but the acid test of any panto remains; “Is it funny?” The answer is an emphatic yes. The children laughed enthusiastically, as did the adults, and the story unfolded at a brisk pace, no scene ever outstaying its welcome. Local references and jokes abound with something for Four Oaks residents and Crazy Purple residents alike! Cinderella runs to Sunday 20th December including a number of matinees.
Gary Longden

16-12-15

 

Love Midlands Theatre (16-12-15)

There’s a predictability to Christmas panto which is sometimes charming but can also be rather tiresome.

Frances Richmond’s production of Cinderella at Sutton Coldfield Town Hall for Richmond Ward Productions finds a delightful and inventive middle ground in this thoroughly entertaining tweak of an old classic.

It’s panto that’ll pull in the punters but pulls some surprises out of the bag too.
Katy Gaskin is charming as the show’s leading lady and belts out each number with an elegance and ease beyond her years. Opposite her, Daniel Roberts is a suitably dashing and attractively foppish Prince Charming, while Brad Walwyn is refreshingly natural and funny on stage as his sidekick Dandini.

The action moves with pace and clarity…. Niko Adilypour gives a commendable and engaging performance as the hapless Buttons with stage presence, comedy timing and appearance reminiscent of a young Joe Pasquale.

Some well-executed, impromptu puppetry provided neat interludes, appreciated particularly vocally by the younger members of the audience.

Special mention must go to Andy James Michel, who wrote this version, and Jamie Jones who combine to create a strikingly gruesome, hilarious and utterly memorable drag-style double act as Cinderella’s ugly sisters Coco and Chanel. Jones as Chanel, making his debut with RWP, produced show-stealing delivery with magnificent poise and an outstanding stage presence. Elsewhere Patrick Richmond-Ward had the air of an old pro with his effortless delivery of Cindy’s stingy father Baron Hard-up and Maura Judges had the audience tittering as her rather dotty Fairy Godmother.

Christmas panto is primarily about fun and RWP’s production undoubtedly puts a big old tick in that box. It was, though, particularly refreshing to see a company take an old classic and add a few new touches in the form of some clever modern musical interludes, puppetry and other subtle touches.
Richmond and Michel can rest assured this witty, funny and thoroughly entertaining version of a familiar tale will have everyone leaving with a smile on their face.