All the familiar pantomime characters are there, but the script by Joanna Read and Stuart Thomas script, the designs of Cleo Pettitt and Kate Saxon’s production give it all a further twist in a contemporary direction. Prince Charming is played by the young Black actor Daniel Norford with just the right amount of panache; he has a good singing voice as well. Cinderella herself is Bethan Walker, a feisty lass when pushed to it and she also has a fine singing voice. The trio of nasties contrast beautifully, though that’s probably not the right word in this context – Michele Moran revelling in her split skirts and horned hairstyle as the Stepmother, Peter Holdway teetering in the skinniest and sharpest of blue veins as Gorganzola and Donovan F Blackwood oozing Caribbean bonhomie as Dolcelatte, another big cheese very much on the turn.
Buttons is Andrew Macklin, bringing the audience on-side as he shows how his real love for Cinderella can translate into brotherly affection. Eugene McCoy is Dandini, the equerry with all the dud jobs. I liked the way that Saxon’s production plays with the usual set pieces – not one ghostly visitor to the sisters’ bedroom but a whole coven of them; the slapstick of the cooking scene shared between the stepsisters, the modern ballroom scene and the peacock-drawn coach foreshadowed by the drop curtain.
John Banister’s musical direction uses up-to-the-moment songs, easily recognised by the youngsters in the audience. There’s a nice seasonal medley after the last scene’s traditional walk-down. It’s a show for all ages with the variations keeping we older ones intrigued; they decorate rather than deform the basic story-line, so that the children never feel led astray from the familiar.