Friday, 14 December 2007

Cinderella - Richmond Theatre

Cinderella – by Peter Denyer
Richmond Theatre 7
th Dec – 20th Jan 08
Review by Diane Higgins

The smooth tones of Nigel Havers' disembodied voice heralded the start of the Tuesday evening performance of Cinderella with an entreaty for us to behave and not be naughty, and we would enjoy a magical evening. But as parents and children were in equal parts making a hell of a noise, it mostly fell on deaf ears. A flash and a bang announced the fairy godmother - Lynette McMorrough, with a startling blue wig and she set the scene. The curtain rose on the villagers with Cinderella in the vocal lead in a very loud pop-style number which soon drowned out the audience. Lucy Newton was a good Cinderella with a strong voice.

Baron Hardup, Nigel Havers', made his first entrance to great applause which he obviously relished. His performance went downhill after this with his jokes falling very flat and aside to Buttons that he didn't write it did not make us laugh any louder. Maybe the intention was to play it this way, if so he was very unconvincing and he looked like a fish out of water. He was the weakest performer of the cast.

The character who really made this panto work was Buttons, played by Paul Zerdin, with his little puppet Sam he got the audience working and responding and kept it going with exactly the right mix of topical asides for the adults and interaction with the children. Prince Charming (George Wood) and Dandini (Simon Lipkin) worked well together, giving a strong and humorous performance. Su Douglas was a convincing wicked stepmother and elicited deafening boos. The ugly sisters Griselda (Ian Good) and Mona (John Barr) were just too ugly and played without any subtlety. The 'Ba-boom' smutty joke bit was overdone with a lot of hitching up of 'balloons' - very reminiscent of Les Dawson, but not very funny. But the children loved the ghost routine.

Scenery and costumes were good, with Cinderella's little white ponies giving the 'ah' factor. At the end of the panto, all the cast made their final entrances to great applause with Buttons and Sam stealing the show. It closed with the whole cast singing and dancing, at which point Nigel Havers disappeared only to return onstage and mumble a bit as he obviously didn't know the words. On the whole an enjoyable performance with perhaps a bit more rehearsal for Mr Havers.

Photos by Tristram Kenton – Top: Nigel Havers ( Baron Hardup) Lucy Newton (Cinderella) Bottom: Paul Zerdin (Buttons)

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