Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews


New Theatre, Cardiff , New Theatre, Cardiff , December 19, 2014
Cinderella by  New Theatre, Cardiff By Mike Smith

One of the delights of not having children is taking other people’s little ‘uns to the panto, enjoying their laughs, shouts and often chocolate and ice cream induced excitement, without having to try to explain the complete weirdness that we have just experienced.

Panto doesn’t come any zanier than this year’s festive frolicking at the New Theatre with not only the usual mixture of cross dressing men, double entendre jokes, TV faces alluding to their on screen day jobs but also a former rugby international who delights in being as camp as Christmas.

What you can always also rely on from the lovely New Theatre is a show of the highest quality, sumptuous costumes and sets, clever
special effects, a strong cast of performers, thankfully lots of live music and singing and dancing, all of which combines to be a delight of live theatre. One of my Christmas treats is just seeing a theatre packed with people of all ages loving a performance and not glued to their television of electronic game device.

The big names of this year’s panto are the now former player Gareth Thomas and former talent show winner and now TV soap actor Lee Mead. I have to say I felt a little sorry for Mead as it was clear the former Welsh rugby international Thomas was the main local interest as Dandini and rather upstaged Prince Charming whenever they shared the stage. The former has the singing voice and boyish charm while Thomas (clearly loving every minute and extremely enthusiastic) can make jokes about odd shaped balls, his ‘conversion’ , ice skating and show off his tattooed torso. I’m not sure if any of the kids in the audiences had a clue what he was going on about but that’s for the parents to explain.

Mead doesn’t really have much to work with as it is a bit of a dull role being the sugary sweet Prince Charming and references back to the TV show searching for a new Joseph in the sing-along musical is wearing a bit thin. I don’t watch Casualty so maybe he is better known than I realise. Thomas on the other hand has gained fame for challenging the heterosexist image of a rugby player but then vamped it up in this show. Were it not for his gym created physique, which he shows off in probably the funniest part of the panto, we were in danger of having oodles of gay stereotypes reinforced rather than challenged. But then this is panto so not to be taken seriously – I hope.

As Cinderella Holly Bluett plays it straight with no gimmicks, like Mead she has a nice singing voice, is appealing with pretty looks and charming acting and proves the perfect counter to the over-the-top ugly sisters. These were played by the husband of evergreen Linda Lusardi, our sparkling Fairy Godmother, and panto director Sam Kane and our ever popular Mike Doyle. Kane and Doyle were excellent and they hit just the right level of humour that would appeal to adults while also keep the children thoroughly entertained. Again the glue that held the panto together was the lovely comedian Andy Jones as Buttons.

It’s best I don’t tell any more of the jokes or spoil the fun such as telling you about the “If I wasn’t in panto” routine so just go and grab a ticket and enjoy the seasonal silliness and see the kids enjoying live theatre.

Until Jan 18

Tickets are available from 029 2087 8889 or via

Reviewed by: Mike Smith

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