**** 4 Stars
For 17 years Newcastle Theatre Royals, panto dream team of Danny Adams and Clive Webb have reigned supreme, accompanied for 15 years by the most glamorous of Dames Chris Hayward and its now time for teams fourth production of the fairy godmother of pantos, Cinderella, and they only way to mark this long running record is to bring the critically acclaimed London Palladium production to the heart of the Northeast and what true joy of a panto it is.
The fairy tale story if fully intact with Danny Adams delivering a high energy and hilariously funny “Buttons” where he gets the energy to turn in such physically demanding role is astounding especially on Saturdays where its plays three times a day. Adams brings the child out in all of us and reminds us of the joy of innocence that panto exudes. Clive Webb as “Baron Hardup” seems refreshed this year, make each moment on the stage count and although it’s clear the “12 days of Christmas” routine is exhausting for him, he can still deliver in spades.
Returning for his second year is the simply gorgeous and divinely voiced Joe McElderry as “Faerie Godfather” a nice twist that works well and Joe showcases not only his singing skills but his comedic acting abilities and truly shows what a talent he is. That said for the second year running, the use of jokes regarding his sexuality are simply not needed and are in no way in the vein of pantomime and make for a rare error of judgement from the production team.
All goodies need a baddie and this year for the second year running Chris Hayward is bad, very very bad as “Baroness Volupta” and he simply wonderful, getting the balance spot of on, achieving boo’s with ease but always ensuring not go too far. His costumes and wigs are spectacular and with confirmation that Chris will revive Dame Rita for next year’s Pinocchio it seems the North Easts most glamourous and beloved Dame will return to the good side. No Cinderella is complete without a pair of ugly sisters and Kylie Ann Ford as “Vindicta” and Christina Berriman Dawson as “Manupulata” bring the wickedness in spades and blended with pure hometown charm make them a winning pair.
Wayne Smith is back again as “Prince Charming” his suave good looks and fabulous vocals make him an audience winner and his winning of Cinderella heart is utterly charming. Oonagh Cox takes on the title role of “Cinderella” and while she is underused, she is everything a Cinderella should be and makes every little girls dreams in the audience come true.
Mick Potts is back in harness as the “Idiot” except this time round he is playing “Dandini” but its clear it’s just the “idiot” role again, but he does deliver it with consummate style and brings a rich tradition of slapstick to proceedings. Also joining the cast to give an injection of street dance are “Flawless” in the role of “The Princes Royal Guards” and their appearances go down a storm as crowd pleasing sparkling moment. The production also features a eight strong ensemble who deliver Choreographer Ashley Nottingham’s excellent dance numbers with style and grace.
Production wise this show is simply beautiful Ian Westbrooks stunning London Palladium set, while it may have been brought in a bit to make it fit, looks gorgeous on the Theatre Royals stage as does Mike Coltman’s and Teresa Nalton’s Costume design and they all sparkle under Ben Cracknell’s outstanding lighting design. Richard Brookers sound design is accomplished and ensures musical Director Michael Bradley’s five strong Orchestra truly rock the audience to the core.
It’s clear to see why the Theatre Royal Newcastle’s pantomime is the jewel of the North East, Director Michael Harrison is a local lad who has never forgotten his roots despite his enormous success, his care, dedication and sheer passion for pantomime is palpable and he ensures the ongoing golden period of the panto dream team forever embraces new generations of panto audiences and with the news the venue will have a totally brand new show next year a new chapter awaits.
For now, be sure to grab a gold dust ticket for the most magical pantomime of them all!
Crossroads Pantomimes Presents “Cinderella”, The Theatre Royal, Newcastle, runs until Sunday 15thJanuary 2023, For further info go to: https://www.theatreroyal.co.uk/whats-on/cinderella/