If we were to list our favourite festive family traditions, then taking our kids to the pantomime would be right up near the very top. It’s a joyous few hours of escapism and Nottingham Playhouse never fails to deliver, serving up funny, exciting, musically delightful shows year after year.
This year, it’s the turn of Cinderella to take centre stage, and it’s running until Saturday 20 January 2018 so there’s still time to catch a piece of the action.
Written and directed by Kenneth Alan Taylor, the pantomime follows the plot we all know and love, but it’s the comedic timing, bags of personality, plenty of slapstick, stunning sets, striking costumes (see the fabulous Claire Storey as the Fairy Godmother below), endless jokes, catchy songs, and ample opportunities for audience participation that really make this show stand out.
John Elkington returns to the Playhouse stage as Bella the Ugly Sister and is as brilliant as ever, able to make each member of the audience feel complicit in every eye roll, often at the expense of equally hilarious Darren Southworth as Donna the Ugly Sister.
Tim Frater is another Playhouse panto regular, and this time he portrays an incredibly likeable Buttons. So likeable, in fact, that the audience almost struggle to cheer for James Nicholson when he first takes to the stage as Prince Charming. Nicholson soons wins hearts, though, with a strong singing voice and a particularly impressive ability to play it straight when all around him is bordering on the comically surreal.
Playing likeable side kick to Prince Charming is Adam Pettigrew as Dandini. They’re well paired as best mates with a power imbalance, and together they deliver warm, gently comic interludes that help to move the plot along.
Kellie Agredo is sweet and easy to root for as Cinderella, nimbly skipping around the stage, singing beautifully, and managing to walk that fine line of a classic damsel in need between naive and irritating.
For us, though, Rebecca Little really steals the show as Duchess Dowager Devilla – auntie to Bella and Donna. Her larger than life personality on stage is utterly infectious and even as the villain of the piece, it’s impossible not to love her. When I asked the kids what they thought were the funniest scenes, they both opted for scenes starring Bella, Donna and Devilla – as a trio, they are not to be missed.
If Nottingham is within reach, I highly recommend booking tickets to see Cinderella while you can. And if you have little ones, don’t forget to pop their names into the box in the foyer before the performance. They could find themselves on stage!
We attended the press night performance as guests of the Playhouse. Photos by Robert Day © Nottingham Playhouse 2017