REVIEW: Cinderella, Kings Theatre, Southsea, until January 6.
The Kings Theatre is our most natural panto venue; this year – just as every year – it gets a panto worthy of it, a superb couple of hours of fun and nonsense, delivered with infectious enthusiasm and huge enjoyment by a cast who are clearly masters of the art.
Of course, it helps that the panto is Cinderella, generally the best – but the gang at the Kings take it to the next level. They whip the kids up into a frenzy, they offer tons of laughs for everyone and they send us all home warmly, festively happy.
The cast are clearly loving every moment and we can’t help but do so too as they deliver a gorgeous Christmas treat.
Maybe the highlight is their rendition of The 12 Days of Christmas. Even though the chaos is probably very cleverly choreographed, it is still absolutely hysterical. Terrific too and probably more spontaneous is the get-a-couple-of-kids-up-on-the-stage moment, and on Saturday morning they had a couple of total sweeties capable of melting the most hardened of hearts.
In between it all, this is a panto that romps along, helped immeasurably by the outstanding quality of the singing. At times, panto vocals can be… well, just a touch weedy. Not so here where the music is one of the many, many pleasures Cinderella has to offer.
But maybe the biggest pleasure is that the cast are oozing such obvious delight in what they are doing.
Marcus Patrick is a great Dandini, so skilled at drawing the audience in. Ditto Simon Grant as Buttons, another performer who instantly gets you on side. Jake Quickenden makes Prince Charming, so often the dullest of roles, sparkle to life, and Kaya Rose is a wonderful Cinderella.
Jack Edwards, always a class act, is endless fun as the Wicked Stepmother, mother to two gruesome sisters, the uglies superbly delivered by Harry Howle and Paul Lawrence-Thomas, a terrific double act, viciously nasty and just ripe for the comeuppance you know they are going to get.
And Natasha Barnes sprinkles plenty of magic as the show’s Fairy Godmother.
Lovely sets, lovely costumes and some lovely dancing do the rest in a panto which doesn’t dip for a moment – full-on bonkers fun, panto at its absolute best.