Although the location may have changed, all the silliness, outrageousness and colourfulness of the annual Everyman rock ‘n’ roll panto has made a comfortable transition to the Playhouse.
As the previous venue undergoes redevelopment, co-writers Sarah Nixon and Mark Chatterton bring Cinderella: Mop! In the Name of Love to the famous theatre in Williamson Square this year.
Both strive to establish a traditional pantomime with a twist, changing the well-known story slightly and succeeding brilliantly with the use of pop/rock music. This is the tenth rock ‘n’ roll panto co-written by the pair which brings together a number of familiar faces to the delight of both the children and adults amongst the audience.
The talented ten-strong cast all sing and play musical instruments, keeping a fast paced momentum throughout the performance.
A very cute Sarah Vezmar plays Cinderella firstly all sweet and innocent but in her pursuit of finding her Prince Charming becomes transformed into a sexy woman by her fairy godmother, Poppy Pumpkin, played by Kate Marlais. One of the highlights of the production is Marlais’ entrance when, harnessed to a wire, she floats onto the stage singing ‘Fix You’ by Coldplay.
The villain of the piece is Maud Macbeeeth, Cinderella’s wicked stepmother who is out to steal Prince Charming’s affection simply for his money. Rebecca Bainbridge gives a marvellous performance in the role, causing a chorus of boos from the excited younger audience members every time she steps foot on stage, while grabbing a chuckle from the adults with lines such as ‘I’m getting a ‘Scouse brow’, in reference to E4’s Desperate Scousewives, for the forthcoming royal ball.
All the fun, however, comes largely from the reunited Adam Keast and Francis Tucker, who’ve appeared in previous Everyman pantos. They play Cinderella’s ugly stepsisters, Titiana and Wilhelmina, with audacious ease and bring out the naughty undertones of Nixon’s and Chatterton’s script magnificently.
Jonny Bower is superb too, in particular as Tony Tofu, an Indian beauty guru that the ugly sisters visit for full make-over prior to the ball. Bower plays multiple roles as Cinderella’s father, Hector, and Prince Charming’s equerry, Danny Deeny, also.
A local link is represented by Robert Gilbert as the prince, who trained at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts. Each time Chatterton, who takes on directing duties, has Gilbert entering stage to the James Bond theme and announcing he is “Charming. Prince Charming”, it caused laughter, while a scene with Cinderella made one child in the audience make vomiting noises due to the grossly loved-up exchange created by Gilbert.
In his first ever pantomime; Liverpool-born Chris Lindon plays Buttons, a close friend to Cinderella who wants their relationship to be something more. Dressed in bright green jeans and colourful waist jacket, Lindon looks as though he’s come straight from a children’s TV studio. His duet with Vezmar, singing Snow Patrol’s ‘Chasing Cars’, caused a rapturous applause and his talents extended to playing guitar as well.
With a farting machine, plenty of singing and dancing there is never a dull moment in this madcap addition to the theatre season. The audience are not let off lightly either, in particular those sitting in the stalls, who got soaked by water, as is ritual in these rock ‘n’ roll pantos. One poor guy - a fella called Tony - was even dragged up on stage while the cast got the rest of the audience participating, clapping and singing.
Cinderella: Mop! In the Name of Love certainly brightens up the spirits in these festive times whether your aged six or sixty six.