New Victoria Theatre, Woking – until 6 January 2019
In the world of panto, I am a total newbie, having only seen a couple in my life. So the way I judged Woking’s festive offering was by the reactions of those around me and they seemed to love the humorous, slightly magical and well-characterised show.
Alan McHugh’s book keeps to the classic roots of Cinderella, switching up for comedic effect but never really bringing anything new or fresh to the story. It does, however, remain fluid and entertaining. The Act 2 performance about what life would be like for the characters if they had other jobs was highly enjoyable and a stand out moment.
A lot of the show is based around Craig Revel Horwood’s character, Baroness Hardup, who graces the stage in a number of bedazzled gowns, accompanied by the Strictly Come Dancing theme tune and a barrage of dry humoured jokes. Horwood gives the performance we expect and does a good job as the villain we love to hate. Although I would’ve liked to have hated him a little more.
Suitably named stepsisters, Tess and Claudia are well played well by Suzie Chard and Wendy Somerville, with mockery and flounceyness used to a T, but are underused and lack the opportunity to really come to life.
Despite some book-related flaws, the cast is highly energetic and enthusiastic, doing a fantastic job of livening up the audience without becoming a complete cheese fest. As the title character, Sophie Isaacs gives a truly royal performance both vocally and characterisation wise and is matched in charm by the swoon-worthy Oliver Savile who brings his Fiyero vibes to Prince Charming.
Stealing much of the show are Paul Chuckle and Phil Butler as Baron Hardup and Buttons. The pair bounce fantastically off of one another and ensure a steady banter which translates well between the two and the audience. What the script lacks in story, is made up for with the spades of fun these two bring to the New Victoria stage.
Cinderella is a festive treat for all the family that of course, uses Panto tropes but doesn’t make them overbearing and instead brings a lighthearted show to life with ease, fun and energy. With dancing pumpkins, flying horses and sparkles upon sparkles, there’s sure to be something for everyone in this production.
Cinderella runs at the New Victoria theatre until 6th January 2019
photo credit: Ian Olsson