With the entire audience ready for some serious audience participation from the off, there is no doubting Darlington has a hit on its hands with Cinderella.
Director, Ed Curtis, keeps a traditional feel to the pantomime, with each of the leading characters having a brief “one to one” with the audience as they introduce themselves. While these introductions seem hurried (one character literally walking on as the other leaves) once over, the story speeds along.
Fairy Godmother (Deena Payne) drives the production, as she looks after Cinderella (Emma Stephens) protecting her from Trinney and Suzanna, the Ugly Sisters. Though Brian Godfrey and Darren Southworth, play each “Ugly Sister” well, there is a apparent lack of chemistry between them, which stops the pairing working as a double act.
The comedy is left in the capable hands of Jimmy Cricket (Baron Hardup) who appeals to all members of the audience, as he is a true family entertainer, from the old school. Likewise, Dawson Chance, knows what works with a pantomime audience, and along with Willy the turtle, hits the spot as the brokers men. Adam C. Booth builds a close relationship with the young audience as Buttons, trying to cement his love for Cinderella in Act 1, however there is little opportunity to continue this in Act 2.
Ray Quinn, does not fit the usual guise of Prince Charming, but as expected, belts out his musical numbers and makes the most of each of his scenes.
Even though Musical Director, Steve Clark, does wonders with his small band, the production (written by Michael Vivian) does have too many songs in Act Two, allowing a break in concentration for children and a temporary lull in the comedy.