Cinderella, St Albans Arena
St Albans pantomime comes highly recommended this year. Producers Paul Hendy and Emily Wood have outdone themselves with a stellar cast and spectacular production values.
The show is chock-full of truly funny jokes, local references and well-known songs that fit into the Cinderella tale. It has the required cultural references such as What Does the Fox Say?, as well as a guest appearance by “Bruce Forthright and Twice Daily” for a ballroom dancing skit. The multi-talented cast has the entire audience joining in with the participation (even the most unwilling dads and grumpy grandpas) and there’s even a bit of fake snow for some super-psyched scouts in the middle aisles.
It is a sophisticated production, well directed, cast and choreographed. The dancing is slick and to a high standard – even in the younger members of the cast.
Gareth Gates is dreamy as Prince Charming, living up to his moniker, and CBeebies’ Andy Day as his loyal servant Dandini is excellent – appealing most to TV-watching children, but also amusing for the adults. Jemma Carlisle’s Cinderella is gorgeous, doll-like and has a sweet lilt to her singing, while Laura Jane Matthewson’s northern fairy godmother is hilarious and Bob Goulding’s Buttons is a hoot.
Design aspects are lavish (set and costumes by Helga Wood), with the ugly sisters’ costumes particularly noticeable. The gruesome twosome (played by Matthew Daines and Sam Rabone) are adorned in the brightest of garbs, resplendent at different times in velour vegetables, hideous hunting gear and leopard-print leggings. Cinderella’s gowns – and the transition into them – are dazzling, and the scenery is magnificent, with impressive props such as two miniature, white Shetland ponies to pull the carriage.
Evolution’s Cinderella is a delightful dalliance full of jolly jokes and family-friendly japes – it’s a super Christmas treat.