On the run-up to Christmas, there’s few things as iconic as the family trip to the panto. Audiences from all around the United Kingdom travelled to Llandudno to enjoy the glistening production of Cinderella on its opening night.
The evening is set with anticipation and buzz. Cinderella, the new pantomime in Llandudno has established itself in adverts on buses all around North Wales, as well as signs around the seaside town. Walking in to the auditorium the dressed-up panto curtain, projections and silvery snowflake decorations have an instant effect: cue wide smiles on people’s faces, cue the first toddlers fussing about, cue us all sitting in the edge of one’s seat.
From its magical opening onwards, Cinderella successfully establishes the feeling of wonder to the audience. As one can judge a book by its cover, so can another judge a show by its first moments: the smoky, pyrotechnic entrance of the Fairy Godmother (Natalie Winsor) to the colourful stage, in itself can be summarised into three words, as can the whole show: technical, magical & musical!
Since their official launch in early October, the Cinderella cast parades a respectable amount of panto and West End veterans. Tom Parker (Prince Charming), known previously from pop group The Wanted, returns to Llandudno’s big stage after the UK tour of Grease (2017). In his first panto as Prince Charming, Parker brings in skilled vocals and a comfortable, smooth presence onstage. Highly fitting to his role, Parker feels like the epitome of the modern Prince Charming, and not just because of the boy band past.
Next to Parker is the lovable, regal sidekick Dandini, played by Chris Bewsher, a recent graduate of Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London.
Carly Burns, also a graduate of Mountview, plays the beloved Cinderella. Burns’s portrayal of Cinderella is classic – enchanting singing, chipper and positive stage presence as well as the power to enchant every little girl in the room defines the leading lady.
However, in a pantomime, who really leads the show? The romantic couple perhaps, or maybe it’s really the cheery best friend of the audience. Buttons played by Herbie Adams is exactly this, bringing in those traditional ‘shatterings of the fourth wall’, funny and punny jokes as well as an energy that drives the show and its audience in loud “oohs” and “aahs”. This is no surprise – Adams is a comedian, presenter and writer (as well as a skillful drummer) with over 20 years of entertainment experience in his back pocket.
Another contestant to the show’s lead is Natalie Winsor (Fairy Godmother) who brings in a refined West End presence and glorious vocals to the Fairy’s role. After having starred in many critically-acclaimed productions like A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Theatre Royal Bath and Fame at the Shaftesbury theatre in London’s West End, has appeared in pantomime for the past four years. She radiates a classic musical feel, and truly swoons the audience.
High praise must be mentioned to the group of young dancers in the show – children from the Pearl Shaw School of Performing Arts. Taking on various roles from palace valets to woodland animals, the focus of many scenes (such as Prince and Cinderella’s romantic duet) are completely stolen by the lovely, expressive and talented dancing chorus.
The best aspect of Cinderella the Pantomime is perhaps its variance. The audience is treated to so many aspects of vocal talent, witty humour and family fun that there is bound to be something for everybody.
Dawson Chance (Baron Hardup), brilliant ventriloquist and performer is perhaps the most renowned panto star of the bunch, as Cinderella is his 47th pantomime show. Chance, starring as Baron along with his various animal friends, is a wonderful treat to the youngest viewers.
Brexit was bound to get joked about as well, as the hilarious Ugly Stepsisters Bobby Delaney (Claudia) and Stephen McGlynn (Tess) provide all ages, but especially the adults, with some witty wordplay. The pair carry their evil characters – as well as their crazy costumes – remarkably.
Venue Cymru’s Cinderella the pantomime leaves the audience in awe as any successful, magical pantomime – but this one is not to be missed. The show puts together an evening of songs, comedy, many adorable moments within a refined, top notch set design. The show promises to leave you starstruck – and that it surely will!
(Oh no it won’t!)
Oh yes it will!