Cinderella, Kings Theatre
Kings panto is a little less than charming
Cinderella certainly looks like a gorgeous confection: the set and costumes evoking a Rococo. The pantomime's rags-to-riches fairytale is a hardy perennial Christmas staple, a rites-of-passage for many theatre-going kids. But for all of Eric Potts' lollystick humour, old-fashioned comedy routines and game Ugly Sisters (a superb Tony Roper and Gregor Fisher, looking like a couple of Gallowgate Grayson Perrys) this classic tale becomes a little migraine-inducing, like too many sweets.
At times, the cast's performances are mechanical: Des Clarke's Buttons works the crowd well, but strip away the occasional clever local gag and a show-stopping number about where the cast would rather be, and it's pretty thin. Josh Tevendale often struggles with bringing real conviction to his lines as Prince Charming.
Gillian Ford's Cinderella has appeal, more feisty than simpering Cinders of the past, but the script's reliance on homophobic jokes is unnecessary, somewhat surprising for a family audience, and rather dated. In the main, some eighties style un-PC sauce can work, but not when repeated as a theme. However, Elaine Mackenzie Ellis is an adorable, couthy and self-deprecating Fairy Godmother, the ensemble bring lots of energy, and Gary Lamont's Dandini utterly oozes charisma, particularly during his heartfelt, lovely cover of Whitney Houston's 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody'. More moments like this, please.
Kings Theatre, 2 Dec 2016–8 January 8 2017.