Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

A panto to chill you out and cheer you up!

Cinderella

Swansea Grand Theatre , Swansea Grand Theatre , December 26, 2008
Cinderella by Swansea Grand Theatre Oh yes! Forget the omnipresent "credit crunch", abandon all glum thoughts and tune yourself into this warm and winning pantomime which promises to work wonders for the Grand's box office takings during the dark weeks of winter... oh yes it will!

This one cannot possibly go wrong, and is lovely stuff by any standards.

The big draw, of course, is Su Pollard, whose portrayal of nasty old Baroness Hardup plays against type and gets the crowd worked up in the best possible way. To describe her performance as fabulously larger than life is an understatement. Take it from me - this woman is a gem, if not a national treasure. What you see is what you get. And what you get here is worth every penny.

Chris Jarvis(of CBeebies fame), stars as Buttons as well as being the director of the show: his performance is a revelation, and it is clear that he has worked hard to capture the "local" flavour so beloved by Swansea audiences, working closely with Grand favourites Kevin Johns and Frank Vickery(both of whom excel as ugly sisters Britney and Paris)and Nia Jermin, who scores a major hit in the title role.

It is so good to see a visiting performer making such an effort to fit in with the local scene, and I strongly suspect that Jarvis will prove to be enormously popular not only with the ticket-buying public but also with the staff of the theatre - always a good sign.

Sarah Thomas shines as the Fairy Godmother - mainstream TV viewers will know her as Glenda from Last of the Summer Wine,which is no bad thing but here she is given every opportunity to stretch her comedic wings.

Excellent performances, too, from Craig Tyler(Prince Charming) and Gavin Lee Rees(Dandini). Musical direction is safe in the hands of the ever-reliable Griff Harries, with the younger performers being members of the Grand Theatre School of Dance and Drama.

By any standards, this has to rate as one of the finest and most focused pantos to have been staged at the Grand for a while.

Even before the run began, there was as an unmistakably positive buzz surrounding the show - no bad thing, and a sure sign of quality.

Oh, and another thing - any show which can incorporate references to Bob the Builder, Gavin and Stacey and Mamma Mia alongside a knowing wink to the late great Northern music hall comic Sandy Powell("Can you 'ear me, Mother?")has got to be worth a look. There is much to enjoy here for pop culture buffs.

If you are seeking an escape from the spiralling madness of the pre-Christmas rush, I would heartily recommend that you give this a go. If this doesn't chill you out and cheer you up, nothing will.

Cinderella's run at the Grand ends on January 18. Spread the word - this is well worth a look.

Reviewed by: Graham Williams

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