Wolsey's winter warmer

Cinderella, New Wolsey Theatre, until January 31WINTER is well and truly here. Two things tell me this - the cold, dark and dreary atmosphere outside and the warm, glowing and cheery one inside the New Wolsey Theatre.

Cinderella, New Wolsey Theatre, until January 31

WINTER is well and truly here.

Two things tell me this - the cold, dark and dreary atmosphere outside and the warm, glowing and cheery one inside the New Wolsey Theatre.

For this is the time of year when theatres the length and breadth of the country dust off their silliest costumes and brightest and boldest sets for a month or two of pantomime fun.


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At the New Wolsey, that means the annual outing for the popular rock n' roll pantomime, which this year is Cinderella.

Written by the theatre's artistic director Peter Rowe, this style of pantomime sees well known songs incorporated into the show, with all the actors taking on the responsibilities of being musicians too.

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Telling the classic rags to riches fairytale of Cinderella, a young girl in search of her Prince Charming, this show includes all the elements a good panto needs, from the Fairy Godmother to her evil nemesis, a sweet but clumsy love-struck young man and, of course, a dame.

Or in the case of Cinderella, two dames, which come in the shape of the ugly sisters, both played with aplomb by Justin Brett and Anthony Coote.

The rock n' roll pantomime is, by now, a tried and trusted formula for the New Wolsey and it is a style that has won plenty of loyal fans.

Unusual in its use of actor-musicians, the show always attracts a very talented young cast. As you might expect, for a group of performers who have to sing, dance and act as well as play all the music, there will always be strengths and weaknesses. For much of the cast in this production, it is clear that their strengths are in singing and musicianship.

As Button's however, Adam Baxter really shines with a spirited and energetic performance that won the crowd over.

Fairy Godmother Lauren Storer and Cinderella Sarah Scowen both provide impressive vocal performances, with surprisingly powerful voices.

Esther Biddle's evil Rubella De Zees is just evil enough to be horrible, but not so much as to ruin anyone's Christmas.

As always, an adaptable set and brightly coloured costumes added to the fun and this year's lighting design also raised the bar.

There's nothing life changing about pantomime, and really, why should there be. As long as it provides an entertaining night out with lots of silliness, laughter and good old-fashioned fun, then it has done its job.

These things, Cinderella has achieved in spades and there is nothing quite like an evening of panto to bring some warmth and a rosy glow to a cold winter's evening.

Helen Johns

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