Cinderella is a stunning, all singing and dancing pantomime that in my opinion is the best one Northampton has ever staged. It’s got everything you want and more. I was really impressed with the very high standard of the cast and production. The opening scene is bright and bouncy and called In Northampton. You won’t see this anywhere else!
Anita Dobson is Baroness Angelique (to you and me, she is a posh Ange!), but some of her other names include Katie Hopkins and Cruella (to emphasize her level of cruelty) and Watts (EastEnders is never that far away). I cannot wax lyrical enough about how fantastic Anita is. She commands the stage as any veteran actor would – but she is so clever to not be too evil, just enough so we like her and dislike her all at once. We already knew that Anita is a fantastic actress, but she blew me away when she sung Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now. (Of course, everyone knows she is married to Brian May, Legendary guitarist of Queen) Not only is this my favourite Queen song, but Anita does it so well and even pretends to play guitar for the guitar solo. I think by now you may realise I just adored Anita. Her on stage husband is Baron hard-up, played by Bernie Clifton. Bernie is funny and does not disappoint. He even came on with the Emu and suddenly I was transported back in time 35 years or more. I was shocked to read he is 83 as he is very able to fulfil the role to his capacity.
Buttons is played by Martyn James . That means there is magic as well as humour in the show. I loved the magic – and his jokes (for example, he puts a colander on Cinder’s head and starts singing Calendar girl by Neil Sedaka). I loved how instead of saying Hi to us, he said Alright me old duck, a local saying. The writers have really done their homework this year. I loved this and it made me giggle each time he said it. Martyn’s talent doesn’t stop at comedy and magic. He is great with the kids and to have two eight-year olds on stage, they do the ‘only one party bag’ gag and then say to one of them that to put this magic invisible coin under your pillow and in the morning, it turns into a £20 note. The other girl was having none of it and demanded a magic coin too! What’s that saying about never working with kids and animals? Oh yes animals...that reminds me…Cinderella’s carriage was magical. Really stunning and yes, the grown woman I am still had a tear fall at seeing it. It was driven by two white ponies, and everyone was mesmerised. And then it started snowing. Not on the stage but on the audience inside the theatre. I felt like I was 10 and it was such a magical moment.
The two ugly sisters are a scream. Tess played by Tommy Wallace and Claudia played by David Dale get the best lines and the best outfits and probably the most changes. Claudia came on as a dressing table at one stage. What an outfit. There were also very memorable traffic lights and zebra crossing outfits so a big shout out the wardrobe who made these brilliant costumes. Cinderella was played by Charlotte Haines and she is the perfect princess. Her Prince charming is Dan Partridge who is equally the perfect prince. Dandini is played by Sid Sloane from CBBC so something for the younger members in the audience. Although I admit not knowing who Sid is, he is very talented and played Dandini with confidence. Jacinta Whyte plays the fairy godmother and she was just spectacular. Can she be my fairy godmother too please?
The show is absolutely fantastic. It boasts a fabulous cast, a good choice of songs and a great script although, there were a few too many mentions about Brexit – especially as I saw the show on the day of the election results. I think politics should be left at the stage door as pantomime is an escape from reality for a few hours. But trust me – this is the panto you need to see. You can still book a ticket here.
Cinderella is on at Royal & Derngate until 29 December 2019.
Photo credit: Robert Day