It’s Panto season (Oh yes it is!) and we were thrilled to be invited to see Cinderella at The Lichfield Garrick. This is pantomime at its best, lots of laughs, some stunning special effects, all the traditional elements audiences love and a huge amount of warmth and charm. We had a brilliant time as did the rest of the packed theatre. It was so lovely to see the audience getting involved, from the little boy dancing at the side of the stalls to the grandad in front of us dancing to Beyonce.
The Garrick is the perfect venue for panto as you get the whole spectacle of incredible costumes and special effects but it isn’t too big that you lose the intimacy for audience participation. It is these unexpected moments that really make the show. It has to be said that as an audience we were pretty rubbish for about the first five minutes. It was a dank Tuesday night and the responses were decidedly lackluster. However, it didn’t take long for the cast to get us warmed up and soon everyone was on their feet yelling out all the familiar responses, all inhibitions long forgotten.
I also like the fact it doesn’t rely on big names to attract the audience. The lovely Rebecca from Cbeebies plays the fairy godmother and there was a brilliant unexpected cameo from a well-loved comedian. Rebecca Keatley is charming as the hapless fairy trying to give Cinderella her happy ending.
The story closely follows the traditional tale of Cinderella, with a sweet love story played by Becky Lane as Cinders and Dominic Griffin as Prince Charming. There are a few modern updates given with a cheeky twist. We really loved the sassy character of Matilda from the children’s ensemble who makes sure Cinderella is treated with respect and doesn’t get married or make dinner unless she wants to.
The set was super sparkly and the costumes were incredible, particularly the over-the-top creations belonging to the Ugly Sisters played by James Mitchell and George Akid. Every time they came on they had something even more ridiculous to wear. We loved how they shouted, “Aren’t we brilliant?!” every time they appeared. I wanted to shout yes! We particularly loved the cow print dresses with cute matching cow bags. Talented directed and actor Sam Rambone was surprisingly not in a dress for most of the show this year. Instead, he played the likable Buttons, his unrequited love brought some unexpected pathos to the performance.
There were some really stand out scenes which we will remember for a long time. We laughed a lot at the Ugly Sisters searching for the most handsome man in the audience and what happened when they found him. The first half ended with the transformation of the pumpkin into a carriage, complete with an incredible flying horse. It was simply magical, and it was even more perfect with the addition of snow. The twins loved it when the prince tried to put the glass slipper onto one of the Ugly Sisters but first had to pull off a huge stocking that went all the way to the back of the auditorium. There was a fun Strictly spoof section, with some wonderful dancing,m not least from Rebecca Keatley, perhaps we will see her on the show for real next year!
If you are looking for a brilliant family treat full of traditional English charm then get your tickets to Cinderella. We can’t wait for Peter Pan next year.
Disclaimer: We were given tickets for the purposes of this review.