New Victoria Theatre, Woking – until 31 December 2022
It’s that time of year again (oh yes it is) where audiences flock to their local theatres to see the seasonal panto, and this year the New Victoria Theatre, Woking are providing the glitziest of night’s out with their version of Cinderella.
Getting the show off to a magical start, is Jenny Gayner as the Fairy Godmother, flying out into the audience and getting the children (and let’s be fair the adults too) on the edge of their seats, ready for a fantastically festive night out. From then it’s full-on, non-stop action, audience participation and slapstick humour. A complete maelstrom of energy, you wonder how the cast can consistently do two shows a week until the end of December.
With panto veteran Kathryn Rooney at the helm as director, this is a show which has something for everyone including some great comedic, as well as theatrical moments. The best comedy comes from Brian Conley as Buttons who completely knows how to work the crowd, with just the right amount of audience participation and a great number of references to his own work as well as to the local area. The wonderful step sisters Claudia (Neal Wright) and Tess (Ben Stock) not only have an astounding wardrobe of over the top, ridiculous gowns, but they also have great chemistry with one another and are thoroughly entertaining throughout their time on stage.
What works so well with this production is that it truly feels luxurious and there is a whole lot of spectacle sprinkled in with the silliness. Aesthetically, the costumes are glorious; an array of sparkle and massive head pieces that look really great. Sarah Vaughan goes to the ball in dazzling glitz and even the Prince (Samuel Wilson-Freeman) gets some cracking costumes.
Other “wow” moments also include the end of Act One snow (always a winner at Christmas) and the real life horses which are just adorable. Pyrotechnics and confetti also add to the drama and festivity of it all and the great vocals and choreography from the cast help make it more than just a laugh a minute, no substance show.
Of course, like with any panto, there are aspects which might not hit personally for every audience member, but you can’t deny that there’s at least a moment for everyone and hearing the children of the audience in fits of laughter is enough to make you feel the festive spirit. Cinderella provides exactly what you’d expect with a Christmas pantomime and you can’t really ask for much more!