Monday, 15 December 2008

Cinderella - Tyne Theatre & Opera House

Cinderella by Brendan & Stephanie Healy
Director: Brendan Healy

Reviewer: Ian Cain

If you’re looking for a traditional family panto with all the slapstick, sing-along songs, silly jokes, audience participation and festive frolics that are associated with the genre, then you really can’t do any better than visit The Tyne Theatre & Opera House and see Newcastle Pantomime Company’s production of Cinderella.

As usual, the cast includes many of the company’s stalwarts but there are a few new faces, too. Billy Mitchell worked his socks off as the beleaguered Baron Hardup, also doubling up as the Baroness Cissy Hardup, too, in the absence of Brendan Healy who was indisposed with laryngitis. Billy gave a stellar performance, despite the fact that it sounded as though his voice was also ready to give up!

Maxie Peters and Kevin O’Keefe donned the most outrageous and outlandish costumes and wigs as The Ugly Sisters, Sharon and Tracy. Both have been members of The Tyne Theatre’s panto team for many years and they are experts at working the audience. Their stage presence and comedy timing ensured that they received the loudest boos and hisses that I have heard for a very long time. Indeed, they just about stole the show.

Charlie Richmond, as Buttons, was a sheer delight. He gave the character a gullibility and simplicity that was completely endearing and he was smashing with the kids in the audience. Jane Holman’s Fairy Godmother was a treat, too. She portrayed the character as a slightly eccentric, ditzy and loveable old dear. The title role was performed to perfection by Catherine McCabe and she seemed to embody each and every quality that is associated with the rags-to-riches girl.

Christina Berriman Dawson and Jennifer Wren made a great double act as Dandini and The Prince, respectively. There was also a competent ensemble who performed in several themed dance pieces to the accompaniment of a great live orchestra. The sets were bright, bold and colourful, just as they should be in pantomime and there were some great wigs and costumes as well.

This pantomime really captures that festive feel-good feeling and, in this production, it isn’t only the Prince who is charming – each and every character is, in their own way, too. Well worth a visit!
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