Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Cinderella - Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

Cinderella – By Roger S Moss
Director: David Morgan
Choreographer: David Morgan
Reviewer: Jim Nicholson with Sam and Alex, and Megan and Kimberly

Who is the star of this lavish, no expense spared, musical pantomime, none other than Ryan the Rat. Our Australian rodent teams up again with Christopher Biggins (Buttons), having appeared together in the jungle and this time Ryan really gets his big break as he delivers a superb solo number from the cellar under Hardup Hall. The kids loved it and so to did Ryan who previously had only been an ensemble member of the casts of Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserable (and any other musical that had a sewer scene) according to the programme notes.

Lavish sets, quality singing from reindeers, crows and that rat, as well as the cutest and impressively choreographed chorus kids(from the Lindsey Read School of Dance), not one could have been older than 7, are just a few of the elements that had the audience on side right from the very start.

Although entitled a musical pantomime do not be fooled, with a 10 piece orchestra and a string of numbers from other musicals such as Wicked and Hairspray the core element of the night was still the traditional panto as we British like it, groan worthy and corny to the core.

Christopher Biggins’ Buttons was at the centre of all that was good and bad within the Hardup household as he was hassled time and again by our ugly, and boy do I mean ugly, sisters (May played by Matthew Kelly and Flower played by Matthew Rixon), but he was also the confidant and shoulder to cry on for the much maligned Cinders (Rachel Stanley).
His boss, Baron Hardup, was the font of all bad jokes and Iain Stuart Robertson had a real Johnny Vaughen look and feel with his delivery.

Stefanie Powers as the Fairy Godmother gets a number of the best songs to deliver, including a fine rendition of Vogue, and I for one was surprised by just how good she sounded. Of course we were quickly groaning again when she has to have a “heart to heart” with Buttons but she soon did the business and the traditional pumpkin and poor old Ryan were on the receiving end of a swish of the wand. This meant that at last our sweet voiced Cinders does get to go to the ball after all and we are treated to a Chitty Chitty Bang Bangesqe take off of her winged horse and golden carriage.

Of course all is not well at the ball and her love for Prince Charming (Craig McLachlan) is cut short as the clock strikes midnight. Ryan keeps her spirits up when she finds herself chained in the cellar by May and Flower so they can grab the hand in marriage of the Prince. Of course they do not get their own way and if you go and see this show you must make sure you hide your kids eyes when these two turn their backs to the audience because let me assure you “thongs aint what they used to be”.

But there is always a happy ending and the cup cakes to chorus kid’s transformation in the finale is one of those theatrical moments that will stay with you for a very long time.

Megan and Kimberly (both aged 8)
The show was awesome much better than Peter Pan last year. The two ugly sisters and their opening the door to the Prince routine was so funny, and we also loved the kiddie cakes at the end of the show.

The Prince had a lovely singing voice and Buttons was hilarious. Oh and we both thought Ryan was the bestest Rat we have ever seen. We had great fun dancing along with all the songs especially the one from High School Musical.

Sam and Alex (both 10)
It was a really good, fun show and Ryan was really friendly with Biggins and they shared some great jokes together. The best part of the entire night was when the Ugly Sisters did the twelve days of Christmas using all sorts of weird items.

There were a lot of clever “magic like” appearances and the singing animals in the forest sounded even better than Ryan. Cinderella had the best voice though.
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