Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Cinderella

The Riverfront/Hiss and Boo , The Riverfront/Hiss and Boo , December 3, 2011
Cinderella by The Riverfront/Hiss and Boo
Once again The Riverfront, side by side with Panto experts, the Hiss and Boo Company herald in this year’s Christmas happiness with their delightful and highly entertaining pantomime.

With its bright and colourful traditional scenery and costumes, as the show dances from one scene to the next it feels like turning the pages of a huge book of fairy stories.

And an excellent telling of the heart rendering rags to riches tale of Cinderella’s new found happiness this production is. Everything romps off to a lively start with Musical Director Rob Mitchell providing a whole host of amazing sounds from his keyboard.

A flash of light and a very charming and disarmingly young Fairy Godmother is before our eyes and giving us an enchanting welcome to the absorbing narrative. In fact she gives us a summary of the twisting plot as a curtain raiser, introducing us to Cinderella and her two sisters, they seemed surprisingly nice at this stage, at a time many years before our story begins. A pint-sized Buttons tries to muscle in on the act but he is told his turn will come later.

Another flash and she is gone. Later disguised as a friendly old harpy she does some very good character acting. Her comedy needs to be a bit sharper to begin with but very quickly Melanie Walters with her warm smile wins us all.

Vivienne McMaster’s choreography moves everything speedily along. The children from Newport Schools have responded to her teaching with tremendous enthusiasm and make a really sparkling contribution to the show. Dancing with them is the central character in this twisting plot, Nichola Lagan as sweet and lovely a Cinderella as anyone would want. She sings and dances delightfully and radiates such pleasantness of personality that totally captivates.

As our youthful hero, Prince Charming the handsome Rob Wilshaw is made for his role. All things being equal they will clearly make a great loving couple but things aren’t equal and Cinderella has a long road to travel. And if her horrible sisters Blodwen and Myfanwy have anything to do with it she will never get there. The ‘coarse’ acting from Lee Mengo and Richard Elis is great fun to watch; they make a remarkable knock-about double act and do a brilliant job of revealing to the huge young audience what a nasty, selfish pair they are. The fervent boos and hisses they have thrown at them are all in the great pantomime spirit that runs all through this show. They do get a bit too noisy at times but their bark is just as unpleasant as their bite.

All the goodies in this show have an appealing charm and friendliness that imparts itself to the eager audience. Poor old Baron Hardup (Anthony Osborne) has an awful time with his two ugly, wayward daughters. He is a good sort but very easily put upon. Anthony Osborne gives him a very kind-hearted character who reaches fulfilment when he sees his other daughter find real happiness.

Our Fairy Godmother isn’t the only one on the scene trying to smooth out all the nasty tricks the terrible two get up to. Cinderella also gets a helping hand from her friend Buttons who is very much in love with her but is quite reconciled when he sees her go off so wonderfully happy with her gorgeous prince. Keiron Self is a Jack the Lad Buttons who has a wonderful time with the young audience and they have a wonderful time with him. In true Welsh pantomime tradition he gets us all tongue-tied trying to master singing Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. It’s hard enough trying to spell it! Relief is at hand, the slipper fits and the sparkling coach magically appears and carries our new found friends off to a very happy ending.

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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