Theatre Review: Cinderella - New Wimbledon Theatre ✭✭✭


New Wimbledon Theatre

10 Dec 2019: The Fairy Godmother of all pantomimes has hit the stage in SW19 this year, oh yes it has! And unlike previous years, the video projection whilst the audience walks in showing adverts and various shots of the panto crowds is nowhere to be seen - thank goodness!

Cinderella is one of the most popular pantos, the story line doesn't need any explanation, it sells itself with the characters and plots, and this years offering in Wimbledon stays true to form. The Fairy Godmother (Opera veteran Lesley Garrett) is a very likeable Fairy, with lots of Opera gags thrown in along with a solo of Impossible Dream to belt out those vocal pipes of hers in style.

Melody Thornton from Pussycat Dolls fame is Cinderella, and has lots of opportunities to sing and dance in her own imitable way, playing the role with panache and hitting all the right notes. Pete Firman as Buttons is a very welcome return, gags a plenty with a few magic tricks up his sleeve to amaze the audience.

Samantha Womack plays the evil stepmother - Baroness Demonica Hardup, again, the writers have a few songs to show off her musical theatre background, and along with Leon Craig and Bobby Delaney as The Ugly Sisters (Verruca and Hernia respectively), the family is made up. The chiselled jawline of Edward Chitticks gives you the closest thing to a Disney style Prince Charming you will see this year, but the standout performance comes from Will Jennings as his sidekick Dandini. Comical facial expressions, good dancing and a great rapport with the audience is a good sign of great things to come for the evening.

With all that said, unfortunately for me a few production elements let the show down, with some odd lighting states going on where it feels a bit too dim to see peoples faces, radio mics going down mid-scenes and numbers, and a below par transformation scene with a flying carriage where you can see the workings which make the magic of theatre. Act one takes a while to get going, and the pace felt a little lethargic. On a plus side, Cinderellas dress changed to ballgown effortlessly, and the band were sounding good under the direction of Barry Robinson, but when it came to the 'Final Waltz', we didn't get one, instead a song in 4/4... each to their own I suppose! Act two felt speedier and gave us more laughs, getting kids on stage is always a dead cert for this, and Pete Firman again worked his magic with them and the song sheet.

Apart from the few negatives, it is a fun filled evening out, the kids will love it, and theres a few adult themed gags thrown in for good measure too.

Three stars ✭✭✭

Photos by Craig Sugden

New Wimbledon Theatre until 5 Jan 2020
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