Pantomime review by Julia Pattison: Cinderella at York Theatre Royal
Venue: York Theatre Royal
Dates: Until Sunday, January 2, 2022
Review by: Julia Pattison
It was wonderful being able to attend panto press night once again, snug, warm and cosy at York Theatre Royal.
The beautiful harmonies from the YTR Choir in the foyer as they sang carols ensured that everyone was in a festive mood before curtain up.
I attended a performance of YTR’s Travelling Pantomime last year when they teamed up for the first time with Evolution Productions, whose director and producer Paul Hendy has once more written the script for creative director Juliet Forster’s cast this year, making it a second co-production.
Nothing stays the same and this new Theatre Royal Panto has an appealing freshness about it without losing any of the panto magic built up by Dame Berwick Kaler and his fab four over many years.
I have to confess that I’ve never seen CBeebies’ Andy Day on TV, but I could quite see why he’d been cast as Dandini to Benjamin Lafayette’s Prince Charming.
He had such charm and was equally at ease with the cast and the audience; just his presence made you smile.
Benjamin was a dream Prince Charming and came into his own at the finale with some very sharp dance moves!
Very often, young members of the audience get a bit shuffly in the ‘sloppy bits‘; no chance of that happening when Duo Fusions Aerialists went into action.
What a wonderful combination of breath taking, graceful dancing displays up in the air while the Prince and Cinderella sang so soulfully.
It was like having our own version of Strictly Come Dancing and we were privileged to be there watching.
Faye Campbell made for a feisty Cinderella, as no-nonsense narrator and Fairy Godmother Sarah Leatherbarrow informed us in amusing rhyming couplets.
With her knowing asides to the audience she definitely earned that much desired magic wand at the finale (loved the projected surprise guest celebrity appearance at the start and end of the show).
What came across so well was the diversity of the cast, making for a unique mix that was fun, and family friendly.
We felt we got to know Stephen ‘Stretch‘ Price, the musical director, through the interaction with the cast. He made the fabulous music seem effortless; such a professional, and a real asset to the company, along with his talented band.
There was a real tongue in cheek style throughout this panto so that anyone cynical in the audience couldn’t help but smile and be drawn into the merry mayhem on stage.
Comedian and Ventriloquist Max Fulham, playing Buttons is a real find – his many antics with Gordon the Monkey had us all roaring with laughter.
An absolute natural on stage and with the audience, this lad’s star is shining brightly.
It was a brilliant idea to make the Ugly Sisters – superbly played by Robin Simpson (Manky)and Paul Hawkward (Mardy) the featured “Baddies” and to dispel with a Dame this year. They were a terrific team.
With youngsters happily responding to their catchphrase, “Oh Shut Up!” with their own cries of “No, you shut up!” We just loved to boo those brilliant baddies and eagerly anticipated what outrageous outfits they were going to wear in each dramatic entrance.
From fabulous sets and costumes, a spellbinding transformation scene at the end of Act One, and sensational sound and lighting, this was a magical production from beginning to end.
A warm, friendly and a perfect night out for all the family. Don’t miss it!