Neil Morrissey puts a real zip into his Buttons as the star of this very traditional pantomime offering from the Derby Assembly Rooms.
Written by father and son duo Keith and Ben Simmons, with dad also directing, this is very familiar territory with all the right ingredients to entice an appreciative family audience.
Former Eternal chart-topper Kelle Bryan makes a thoroughly old fashioned and charming Cinders. Pop star past aside she has been busy building up her theatrical credentials and this show proves that not only can she act and sing but give the chorus a run for their money as a dancer.
The Simmonís corny script seems a little rough and ready at first, with Susie Fenwickís fairy having some particularly clumsy lines to work around, but soon won over the audience. As Baron Hardup and the Brokers Man Keith and Ben work well together, although the senior partner has the surer touch.
Mark Two and Jamie Steen make as malevolent a pair of Ugly Sisters as you could want, relishing their roles as Ravishing Rita and Wicked Wanda with Markís wife Dee providing a stunning set of frocks.
However it is not until Neil Morrissey appears that this show completely gels. Born to be Buttons Neil has exactly the right combination of cheekiness, innocence and pathos to bring the part to life and he made his performance look effortless. There was just a touch of Hardup Hall about his costume which only fitted where it touched but that aside this production is full of seasonal joy right up to the shower of artificial snow that drifted down on the audience as they left through the foyer.
- Nick Brunger