Cinderella at the Lichfield Garrick Main Theatre – Review
Tuesday 3 December
By theatre reviewer Jono Oates
If you want glitz, glamour, giggles, gags and glad rags then Cinderella at the Lichfield Garrick is a must see this winter! The perfect pick-me-up for these chilly and windy wintry evenings, this fabulous panto will definitely lift your mood and get you in to the Christmas spirit in no time at all!
This is the fourth production from Evolution Pantomimes at the Garrick and boy does it show. A highly professional, very glossy production, excellent props, costumes, dancing, and stage management all prove that the partnership between the production company and the theatre is seamless and growing stronger each year.
Cinderella is a rags-to-riches story and, like so many panto’s, has a well-known storyline. Poor scullery maid, Cinderella, is bullied by her two obnoxious step-sisters and when she meets handsome Prince Charming she feels that she has no chance of marrying the man of her dreams. However, helped by the loveable Buttons, the Prince’s servant Dandini and a Fairy Godmother, Cinderella manages to turn the tables on the Ugly Sisters and a happy ending is definitely on the cards at the Royal Ballroom.
From start to finish this panto is a treat to the eyes and on the ears and is full of high energy dances, dazzling costumes, catchy songs, funny jokes, local references (sorry if you’re from Tamworth!) and a whole barrel load of excruciating puns!
The opening scene where young chorus girl Matilda stands up for Girl Power and delivers a really funny jibe at the pre-conceived roles of men and women in modern day society is a great start to the panto. There are lots of modern-day references but these are very skilfully woven in to a very traditional tale, which was originally written by Frenchman Charles Perrault in 1697.
The first act introduces us to the main characters and builds nicely to the closing scene when Buttons and Cinders hop on to the pumpkin coach and the pantomime horse arches up across the front rows of the audience as the curtain comes down, a magical way to enter the interval.
The second act is truly sensational, with a host of songs both melodic and raucous, from the hauntingly beautiful One Night Only, taken from the show Dreamgirls, through to Beyonce’s pulsating Crazy in Love as well as gags galore and some audience participation (it was Dave who was the front row ‘victim’ on Tuesday’s performance!). The opening number of Act Two was the fabulous Boom! Shake the Room which got the whole theatre jumping and the cover of Aerosmith’s Walk this Way was a fantastic, and funny, treat. The closing sequence, as the two love birds finally come together in the majestic ball room, was a gorgeous glittery, golden extravaganza and a fitting way to finish a high-quality panto.
The cast are a mixture of seasoned Garrick performers, some returning stars and some newbies to Lichfield. Rebecca Keatley, of Cbeebies fame, returns as the Fairy Godmother with a lovely, light and funny performance, with plenty of one-liners all delivered with a wonderful Welsh accent! Beccy Lane also returns to the Garrick, playing the eponymous Cinderella with great charm and giggly enjoyment. Her duet with Dominic Griffin, a handsome and truly charming Prince Charming, when they sing One Night Only is a real highlight of the show, beautifully performed and very moving. George Telfer is suitably gentlemanly as Cinders put-upon father Baron Hardup and Herbie Adamas is a box of birds as Dandini, who gets the lion’s share of groan-inducing puns, all delivered in fine style. James Mitchell and George Akind are the two Ugly Sisters and are truly exceptional. A myriad of jaw- dropping costume changes, each one more ridiculous than the previous, great banter between themselves, the rest of the cast and the audience (‘We’re Great…boooo…Shut It!’) make them a classic Christmassy comic combo and they are a real hit of the show.
Finally, Sam Rabone, who also directs the show, makes his first panto appearance in trousers rather than a dress! Usually the Dame, Sam plays Buttons this year but his performance is still fabulously funny – despite his sex change! Lots of laughs as usual, and great knockabout fun, especially in the Ghostbusters scene, he also shows some gentle pathos when he realises that Cinders does not consider him to be her Prince Charming, drawing some ‘Ahhhh, bless’ moments from the audience.
Supporting cast ensemble were all excellent, with energetic and enthusiastic dance sequences and the sheer enjoyment of their being on stage definitely shone through.
The choreography, by Simon Barnum, was lively and intricate, the music was spot on under Musical Director Tor Underseth (Sam loved saying ‘Tor’ throughout the panto!) and Musical Supervisor James Harrison. Special mention for the costume design by experienced pantomime designer Helga Wood, some magnificent creations, especially for the Ugly Sisters, producing a real WOW factor. Set design by Michelle Warden was excellent, a lovely, broad layout which allowed the action to be seen from all angles of the auditorium.
A fantastic production by Paul Hendy and Emily Wood from Evolution Pantomimes, whose partnership with the Garrick is developing in to a series of sure-fire festive hits – and long may it continue!
Finally, a note of thanks to Karen Foster and all of the staff at the Lichfield Garrick who always provide a warm and friendly welcome and work hard behind the scenes to make sure that everything runs smoothly on stage.
If you want to have a great time at a theatre this Christmas and New Year then there is no better place than the Garrick with their jack-in-the-box of a panto. Cinders did, eventually, get to go to the ball and audiences will definitely have a ball while watching Cinderella. Tickets are going very quickly and I recommend that you book in now – don’t be left outside sitting in a pumpkin and missing a slipper!
Cinderella at the Lichfield Garrick Main Theatre runs until Sunday 5 January. To book, and for information, call in to the Garrick Box Office at Castle Dyke, ring 01543 412121 or go to the website: