Real-life father/son duo Danny Adams and Clive Webb are in their 12th year of entertaining the festive crowds at the Theatre Royal and they’ve become the main draw of the annual show and local celebrities in the process. Or at least, they are to the hordes of children who hang on their every word. This year’s effort, written and directed by super-producer and local lad Michael Harrison, is no different and the tale of the flighty girl with the blinged-out shoes has never been so good.
The whole cast put in strong performances. Singer and star of The Basil Brush Show Laura Evans (above) is a prim and proper Cinderella and her stunning voice melds beautifully with that of Will Richardson (below) who plays the dashing Prince. Both tackle both the original numbers and covers of songs like Hold My Hand with ease and have the audience spellbound. Wayne Smith somehow manages to hold his own amongst the mayhem as a very dapper Dandini and has some lovely scenes with Adams, where in this performance (and I’m sure regularly) the two couldn’t contain their laughter. The ugly sisters (a hilariously grotesque Pete Peverley and Steve Arnott) relished their roles as the villains of the piece and their take on the Geordie-lass-doon-the-toon stereotype is just as much for the grown-ups as it is for the kids, who boo and hiss to their heart’s content. Chris Hayward is also back as Rita, the Fairy Godmother, and is as warm and welcoming as ever. He, like Adams and Webb, is a legend of Theatre Royal pantoland.
The 3D portion of the show has become a staple of modern panto and always goes down a treat. Squeals of glee and tears of genuine terror – and that’s the adults! Some traditionalists may turn their nose up but it really is a spectacle. The show-stopping moment comes courtesy of Cinderella’s horse drawn carriage, which rises up into the gods led by incredibly life-like animatronic horses. I couldn’t help but wish I was seeing it through a child’s eyes.
Pantomime sometimes has a reputation as being a bit ‘chatty’ and isn’t taken as seriously as other forms of theatre. This production, with sumptuous sets and intricate costumes to rival a West End show, dispels that myth. The Fairy Godmother in particular has some beautiful costumes; gone are the wacky comedy frocks, replaced by sequinned gowns a la Boulevard that, actually, put Cinders’ outfits to shame.
The entire show is a treat but it really does hinge on it’s Buttons. Adams’ talent as an entertainer, whether that is physical comedy, charm or magic, knows no bounds. How he isn’t a huge star is anyone’s guess. Although if he was, maybe it would take the shine off the Northern star he has been to us Geordies for the past 12 years of Christmas.
Cinderella is at the Theatre Royal until Sunday January 15. For more information and to book tickets call 08448 11 21 22 or click here