Reviewed by Matt Forrest
Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Epstein Theatre’s Christmas panto is now a staple part of my festive schedule; it has become as much a part of Christmas as a turkey dinner, a drink with friends on Christmas Eve and avoiding the Queen’s speech. The Epstein’s festive extravaganza has never failed to put a smile on my face and get me in the holiday spirit and I’m happy to say this year’s production of Cinderella is no different.
It’s a story we all know, that of the kind-hearted but downtrodden, Cinderella (Sammy Winward) who is a skivvy for her wicked sisters, Megan and Kate (Chrissy Rock and Sarah White). Cinderella’s only friend in the world is Buttons (Lewis Devine), who is secretly in love with Cinderella.
However, fate, or more accurately the Fairy Godmother (Samantha Palin) has a plan to help Cinder’s find her true love, in the form of Prince Charming (Andrew Geater). A chance meeting between Cinderella and the Prince sets sparks a flying and soon the Prince and his ever-faithful companion, Dandini (Warren Donnelly) decide to host a ball in order for the Prince to find his Princess.
Despite an initial slow start, this production has something for everyone, great songs and dance routines, with numbers including, Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5, and George Ezra’s Shotgun. A fantastic, hard working cast, and some great visual and verbal gags some for the younger audience members and a few adults in attendance too.
It is hard to believe that this is Sammy Winward’s first Pantomime but she has taken to it like a duck to water and makes the perfect princess. Lewis Devine is the show’s lynchpin, full of charisma; he certainly knows how to work the crowd. Whilst Chrissy Rock and Sarah White are having a ball as the ugly sisters, suitably vile throughout, the pair get the lion’s share of the best lines and are clearly relishing their roles.
There are some great set pieces throughout, a meeting between Cinderella and Prince Charming, which Button’s tries to ruin, is great fun. In addition, the scene at the ball is filled with beautiful costumes, and solid dance routines. However, unquestionably the highlight of the show is the fantastic 3D projection, which is a treat to see and had the younger audience members very excited, I don’t want to say too much but certainly gives a unique slant on the “he’s behind you!” trope so familiar with panto.
This is a great fun, family show, with a wonderful ensemble cast, that will have you grinning throughout. Based on the reaction from the children in attendance for tonight’s show this is the perfect way to escape the winter weather, a festive treat for all the family!
Cinderella is on at The Epstein theatre until Sunday 5th January tickets available here.