Review: Cinderella at Mercury Theatre, Colchester, until January 11.
- Credit: Archant
It’s moments like this that make panto. Buttons is on one knee asking Cinders to marry him but, of course, she’s already met Prince Charming and the arrow has struck. “I’m sorry, Buttons,” she answers kindly, “I can’t marry you.”
There’s barely a moment’s pause before an earnest urging young voice hollers from the audience, “Oh, yes you can.” It’s not where that reply is meant to come in the show but it brings the house down and, just momentarily, puts Buttons off his stride.
The truth is that if you’ve got a really good Buttons most kids would rather Cinderella married him than the posh-speaking prince, who is usually a bit of a nerd. And Dale Superville, something of a Colchester Christmas regular, is a cracking Buttons with the ability to joke and bounce his way into all hearts.
This is a production by a good writer who rejoices in the encouraging name of Fine Time Fontayne and he knows his stuff, as does director Daniel Buckroyd and between them they have put together a near-enough perfect panto that gives us all the much-loved bits that make a traditional whole, although not necessarily where we might expect them.
Above all, you need a really good baddy and Basienka Blake’s black-dressed stepmother, Evilla, is wickedly good, engendering lots of lovely noisy youthful hate. She enjoys added boos for vying with her monstrous daughters for the prince’s affections.
Sarah Moss is a waif-like but strong Cinders who sings beautifully and old yuletide favourites, Ignatius Anthony and Tim Freeman give the Ugly Sister a nice going over, flirting with male members of the audience, getting frightened by a headless ghost and covering themselves in goo in a neat variation of the old wallpaper paste gag.
Laura Curnick is a none-too-dainty Fairy Fingringhoe who can’t always get the verse to rhyme but pulls off an enchanting transformation scene, as well as doubling as an energetic cockney Dandini. And Simon Pontin’s Prince Charming is nicely nerdy, adding many laughs and carrying a jolly good tune.
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There’s much to admire, from the colourful costumes and the slick movements of the ensemble to the choice of songs (and additional lyrics) from musical director Richard Reeday. Great for all ages.