Waterside Theatre is having a ball. A ball for a prince to find his princess. This year’s panto is that romantic classic, Cinderella. Expect glass slippers, ugly sisters, a love story and most of all, expect hysterics from Andy Collins and La Voix. Oh yes, they are back and I cannot imagine panto without them!
La Voix opens the show and this year she is playing the fairy godmother. She looks absolutely stunning and once again I am wishing I could have some of her outfits. Its no secret I adore La Voix and with good reasons. She can sing dance and act and is incredibly funny with my sense of humour. I loved her comment about her first lockdown boyfriend…but will let you hear that one yourself! Some jokes are definitely for an adult audience but are subtle enough that kids won’t get them. Andy Collins is playing Buttons who is secretly in love with Cinderella. Andy plays Buttons so well we want to hug him but can’t because it wouldn’t be socially distanced. Andy is so talented, both with his acting and comedy. We feel we know him as he gets me out of bed for work every morning on BBC three counties, so we are willing him to get the girl (but, and I don’t think this is a spoiler, Buttons doesn’t win Cinderella’s heart).
Gemma Naylor plays Cinderella and she was a lovely Cinderella but sadly had to stop her performance quite early on in the show due to an injury. As Andy and La Voix come on to ad-lib, I feel quite honoured to be at a show that sees this. Special jokes not scripted in the show but just genuine talent talking to us, the audience. It is decided that the understudy, Shannon Rothwell will step into Gemma’s glass slippers. As Shannon came on, she got a round of applause that was unprecedented and La Voix even commented that it was bigger than any cheers for her. Don’t worry La Voix, we still love you too. Shannon was so good at Cinderella that you would not know she was an understudy. She was full of energy, knew her lines perfectly and gave us a fantastic performance.
All the cast were excellent and I would like to also mention the orchestra who were brilliant and even gave a few trumpets and drums during the La Voix and Andy ad-lib. I also loved the choreography and even the comment that they go off stage dancing to a count of 5,6,7,8 with a few bars of A Chorus Line. (Yes, I noticed that). It’s those little moments that make this show feel polished.
It was different from previous years in some ways. During the ‘bra that was meant to fit three’ song, there is no throwing of the toilet rolls. Those who have been previous years will know what I mean. But that makes sense as I would not want to touch something that so many others had touched with a pandemic about. But don’t worry, water guns are still a thing. This is not just for kids. There are grown-ups older than me in the audience with huge water pistols. You have been warned!
It is so lovely to be back at Waterside Theatre for panto after the theatre was dark last year. This was mentioned at the end by both La Voix and by Andy who was reduced to tears and it genuinely touched my heart. I have missed theatre more than I can put into words. It’s a part of me and I am so glad its back. Treat yourself and get along to Waterside this panto season. You will not be disappointed.