Cinderella | Opera House

Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

First staged in 2016 at the London Palladium then last year at Birmingham’s legendary Hippodrome Qdos Entertainment’s Cinderella has been brought bang up to date by writer Alan McHugh with Corrie jokes a plenty and hilarious local references a go-go. Both Ben Nickles who plays Buttons and Ugly Sister Les Dennis adding material to the laugh a minute script ensuring a riotous night out is guaranteed.

All the stops have been pulled out in this spectacular production; lavish sets, colourful costumes, catchy songs and a superb cast ensuring the Opera House panto remains at the top of theatre goers agenda for another festive season.

Our Ugly Sisters Phelina (Connor McIntyre) and Michaela (Les Dennis) are mad for it as they blend the silly with the slapstick and throw in some cheeky charm for good measure, the pairing is genius as panto pro Les leads the way, reminding us all just why he’s one of the best in the business.

Rochdale comedian Ben Nickless quickly becomes an audience favourite as Buttons; he laps up the applause and delights with outrageously funny comedy capers and hilarious impressions, a born entertainer who comes very close to stealing the show.

Gareth Gates and Shannon Flynn make for a perfect pairing as the dashing Prince Charming and the down on her luck Cinderella proving that they’re not afraid of getting stuck in with the slapstick when their romantic meeting turns into a hilarious battle of wills with lovesick Buttons.

Hayley-Ria Christian makes for a super sassy Fairy Godmother while Jack Wilcox is a commanding and charismatic Dandini.

The ensemble cast and young company, always a favourite of mine in panto add vibrancy with slick delivery of Fabian Aloise’s choreography adding additional charm to this feel-good family show.

Qdos Entertainment has got Cinderella just right in terms of pitch, the script is jam-packed with hilarious gags and witty one–liners while the innuendo we all expect from panto never tips into crudeness, its good old cheeky fun and plenty of it.

The transformation scene at the end of Act I really has to be seen to be believed and is worth the ticket price alone as the gasps of delight from the audience both young and old are heard loud and clear. While panto may one of theatre’s oldest traditions this production feels fresh and vibrant.

Cinderella really is the perfect package; it’s lavish, sparkly, sequined fun suitable for all the family. This extravagant production is everything panto should be and more.

Guaranteed to entertain from start to finish leaving you feeling suitably festive and full of Christmas cheer. Big, bold and brilliant!

Cinderella is on until Sunday 30th December tickets available here.

Cinderella | Oldham Coliseum

Darren Robinson Photography

Mini Reviewer Daisy, aged 8

This classic fairy tale, based on a girl and her two stepsisters plus their stepmother, has been chosen as the Oldham Coliseum’s Christmas pantomime.

Cinderella is played by Shorelle Hepkin, who shows off her great personality, and of course, there is Buttons, played by Richard J Fletcher who is her mate and has some extra funny scenes.

The costumes are amazing and wow the audience, putting the ‘ooh’ into ‘Shock’.

Darren Robinson Photography

Sue Devaney is fantastic as the wicked Stepmother and shows off some brilliant vocals.

As for the two stepsisters, who are played by Fine Time Fontayne and Simeon Truby, they are hilarious-especially when they come out dressed in emoji costumes with big haired wigs!

There’s a great glittery set, which shines throughout all the scenes and there’s some classic hits I enjoyed singing along too, from ABBA, to Baby Shark to This is Me from The Greatest Showman.

I loved it!

Daisy’s verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Darren Robinson Photography

Mum of Daisy, aged 30 plus 10

The Oldham Coliseum definitely knows how to put on a panto and this years’ offering, Cinderella, is no exception. From start to finish there’s something for kids, parents and grandparents and all come out beaming from ear to ear by the end.

If you want tradition you can’t go wrong here as it’s got everything; not one but two great dames as the ugly sisters (aptly named as Pumpy and Trumpy Squeezepocket played by Fine Time Fontayne and Simeon Truby); the super fabulous Sue Devaney who steals the show as Cinders Stepmother and of course there’s Buttons, the comedy sidekick (Richard J Fletcher).

Darren Robinson Photography

You’ve also got all the classic panto lines to keep the audience involved such as ‘he’s behind you’ and ‘oh no she isn’t’ plus there’s a mix of current pop tracks that keeps it ‘down with the kids’.

My four year old and eight year old were in stitches when the step sisters ‘flossed’ and joined in with glee when Baby Shark was being sung.

A fantastic festive night out!

Mummy’s verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Cinberella is on at the Oldham Coliseum until 12th January tickets available here

Cinderella

Cinderella Image 11 - Credit David Munn Photograph

Panto isn’t just for Christmas at the Theatre Royal in St Helens with Regal Entertainments continuing their tradition of regular school holiday pantomimes with this Easter’s offering of Cinderella.

The theatre continues its run of attracting well-known names to St Helens with Lee Latchford-Evans from cult pop group Steps taking the role of Prince Charming.

A trained actor as well as singer, Latchford-Evans showed off an easy likeable charm as the Prince as well as a predictably good singing voice.

Georgina Parkinson was a sweet-voiced Cinders with funny man Lewis Devine returning as Buttons following his stint at The venue at Christmas, and proving just as popular with audiences this time.

Cinderella Image 1 - Credit David Munn Photography

Resident dame Si Foster (who also co-writes with Ben Ebgelen) and Mark Newall take on the role of Kendall and Kylie the Ugly Sisters – a brilliant double act who throw plenty of shade and wow in a series of tremendously tacky frocks and wicked weaves. Watch out for the Bags for Life gag – bravo!

Samantha Palin is a warm and distractedly dotty Fairy Godmother, with big hair and bling that wouldn’t look out of place on a Real Housewife of Cheshire. And Andrew Geater is a dashing if somewhat snooty Dandini – they both have fantastic voices and get their moments to shine vocally.

I’m a sucker for the traditional panto transformation scene that usually closes Act 1 and the show certainly doesn’t disappoint here with a gorgeous mix of ballet, baby animals (courtesy of the charming juvenile dancers) and yes – real Shetland ponies! (One of these makes a hilarious reappearance in Act II that had my young co-reviewer in stitches and that I know he will be talking about for days to come.)

Cinderella Image 10 - Credit David Munn Photograph

All of the music is incredibly well chosen. From 80s anthems like Holding Out For a Hero and Love Lifts Us Up (Where We Belong) to musical theatre floor fillers like One Night Only and Fabulous Baby, every song was a total crowd pleaser.

And needless to say Step’s fans won’t go away disappointed with a medley of their biggest hits featuring to the audience’s total delight.

Add to this beautiful and vibrant costumes, charming sets and a brilliantly funny and topical script (anyone who has ever pleaded with ‘Alexa’ will appreciate one gag in particular) that will appeal to all ages, adds up to a warm and witty show that will leave you feeling fuzzy inside.

And with ticket prices starting at an incredibly reasonable £13 – this is a high quality family pantomime at applaudingly affordable prices.

A cracking treat for Easter!

On until Sunday 15th April, tickets available here.

Cinderella- La Cenerentola

'La Cenerentola' Opera performed by Opera North at the New Theatre, Leeds, UK

As part of their fairy-tale season which also includes Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel and Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Snow Maiden, Opera North brings Rossini’s delightful Cinderella to the Lowry stage. Playing around with the traditional, Rossini replaces the wicked step-mother with a hugely comedic yet down right unpleasant step-father (Henry Waddington), in place of a Fairy Godmother we see the Prince’s tutor Alidoro (John Savournin) who instead of waving a magical wand uses his skills of observation and disguise to best get to know the true hearts of our characters, also gone are the glass slippers, replaced by a simple but effective pair of friendship bracelets.

'La Cenerentola' Opera performed by Opera North at the New Theatre, Leeds, UK

Director/Choreographer Aletta Collins’ combined skills perfectly match this production which is based in wicked step-father Don Magnifico’s school of dance, where poor Cinderella (Wallis Giunta) remains kind of heart despite being bullied and bossed about by her ghastly (but oh so funny) step-sisters, Clorinda (Sky Ingram) and Tisbe (Amy J. Payne). The course of true love never did run smooth so why not mix things up a little more with a swapping of roles as Dandini (Quirijn de Lang) the Princes’ Valet dresses up as the Prince in order to discover which of the ladies truly deserve the Princes’ hand.

'La Cenerentola' Opera performed by Opera North at the New Theatre, Leeds, UK

Giles Cadle’s inventive set which is used by all three operas is wonderfully adaptable with the addition of some highly inventive digital technology which allows Cinderella during her lowest moments; see herself in happier times, a hint of what is to come? Of course!

Opera North have succeeded again in creating a bold and enormously fun Opera, their commitment to making Opera more accessible and inclusive is clear and wonderfully reflected by the wide variety of audience members. Cinderella offers something for everyone; it’s incredibly witty with fabulously comedic performances from ugly sisters Sky Ingram and Amy J. Payne, they thrill the audience with their tantrums and vulgar behaviour, over indulged by Father Don Magnifico, performed spectacularly by Henry Waddington. The trio are fabulous fun, uncouth and deliciously unpleasant.

'La Cenerentola' Opera performed by Opera North at the New Theatre, Leeds, UK

South African tenor Sunnyboy Dladla makes a stunning Company debut as the Prince; he delivers each note effortlessness and has a delightfully warm tone plus all the charm you would wish for from a fairy-tale Prince. Also making her debut is Canadian mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta, she is utterly mesmerising, her goose-bump inducing aria’s are worth the ticket price alone. The chemistry between the two is wonderful and their duets sublime. Add to this John Savournin and Quirijn de Lang giving strong performances as both Alidoro and Dandini, plus the wonderful Chorus of Opera North frequently arriving en masse as the Courtiers and you have one seriously stellar line up.

'La Cenerentola' Opera performed by Opera North at the New Theatre, Leeds, UK

Opera North’s revamp of Rossini’s comedy-opera is a joy, full of fun, laughter and superb performances and although Rossini’s version is traditionally enchantment free, the magic of Opera North is here for all to see.

Next and final Lowry performance Saturday 11th March 2pm, tickets available here https://www.thelowry.com/events/cinderella

BRB – Cinderella

brb-5Birmingham Royal Ballet triumphantly returns to the Lowry with David Bintley’s magical production of the classic and much loved fairy-tale ballet, Cinderella. Originally performed in 2010 and broadcast by the BBC as their 2010 Christmas ballet, Bintley’s award winning production features the complete original score by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev delivered superbly by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia. Staying true to the Cinderella story, we meet the wicked stepmother, Cinderella’s two ugly sisters (who we of course love to hate), as well as the handsome prince and not forgetting her magically gifted fairy Godmother.

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We begin in the dark and dank depths of Cinderella’s kitchen dwelling where a bare foot Cinderella has been cast by her wicked stepmother and ugly sisters, her only purpose in life seemingly to serve them. Despite the bleak and depressing surroundings Jenna Roberts ensures Cinderella shines and her joyous and delicate performance is enchanting. She moves with poise and perfection, light on her feet and full of endearing charisma.

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The story telling in this production, as with all Birmingham Royal Ballet productions is wonderfully clear allowing for a beautifully paced performance where we move effortlessly from one piece to the next, eager for more. Complimenting this exceptional narrative is an impressive set and deliciously extravagant costumes both designed by John F. Macfarlane, familiar to audiences as designer of the BRB’s hugely popular Nutcracker. The excellent narrative also allows for some great comedy acting from Skinny (Samara Dowes) and Dumpy (Laura Purkiss), the ugly sisters. Both excel in their roles and their acting is wonderful, offering the audience laugh out loud moments each time they enter the stage they are a fantastic fun and absolutely adored by the audience.

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Perfectly partnering Jenna Roberts’ Cinderella is handsome Prince, William Bracewell. Strong and athletic Bracewell is perfection in the role and the two of them glide beautifully together, their pas de deux performed at the grand ball is utterly mesmerising, they delivery of Bintley’s choreography is precise and striking. As the clock strikes twelve the dreamlike scene begins to crumble as Cinderella dashes from the scene leaving only her sparkly slipper, cue a highly entertaining hunt for the wearer of the shoe.

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Birmingham Royal Ballet succeeds once more in making a production which is not only enchanting and utterly thrilling but accessible and appealing to all. It is wonderful to see a diverse audience from very young children to those senior in age all totally captivated by this stunning production.

Cinderella is a work of magic, enchanting and sublime, an absolute delight.

On at The Lowry until 4th March

http://www.thelowry.com/event/birmingham-royal-ballet-cinderella