Cinderella (Lyric Hammersmith)
Steven Webb, who's fast becoming to the Lyric what Clive Rowe is to the Empire, returns with another sterling turn as Buttons, reimagined as a 'fairy' - hashtag one for the grown-ups - who's lost his wings and must save Cinderella (Julie Atherton, making a welcome return to the capital after her stint in the Sister Act tour) in order to regain them.
It's a fairly standard retelling of the tale, replete with perhaps the grizzliest Ugly Sisters you'll see this season (David Ganly and Hammed Animashaun) and a Wicked Stepmother (or Mrs Hardup) courtesy of Mel Giedroyc who laps up the boos like a trooper - "I need boos to get through this show," she reflects.
The production values are impeccable, with designer du jour Tom Scutt creating a white horse that wouldn't look out of place at the New London and a Prince's ball that Wills and Harry would recognise. On the costuming front there's a quick change that had all around me gasping, though the real show-stealer is Mrs Hardup's black swan ball gown.
Sean Holmes, who's taken a break from Edward Bond to direct his first panto, shows an assured touch and embraces all the pop culture elements his venue usually eschews, from Whitney Houston covers to X Factor-style dance routines (a nod here to choreographer Lainie Baird and the Young Ensemble for their excellent work). There's even the token Gangnam gag.
All told it's a bucket-load of sugary goodness with enough traditional elements to retain its status as the Rolls-Royce of London pantomimes. Full credit to writers Joel Horwood and Morgan Lloyd Malcolm and the team for keeping the laughs coming in this bleakest of recessionary winters.