★★★★

The panto season is back for another year and Queen’s Theatre, in Billet Lane, Hornchurch, has not disappointed with its spectacular adaption of Cinderella.

Packed with innuendos, pop music from the likes of Adele and Elvis, 30 local schoolchildren in the young company and 54 different costume changes; the two hour show is pure pantomime fun.

It follows the classic tale of hard done by Cinderella, played by Natasha Lewis, who manages to escape the evil clutches of her step mother, Baroness Hardup, who is played by Georgina Field, and manages to find her Prince Charming, otherwise known as Jamie Noar, who has previously appeared Queen Theatre’s Made In Dagenham.

However, it was the supporting actors who stole the show and overshadowed the two main leads.

Dandini, who was portrayed by Jonathan Charles, immediately gripped the audience’s attention as soon as he stepped on the stage playing a violin and speaking in a thick Italian accent. He was convincing in his role as Prince Charming’s servant and it was difficult to work out whether he was putting on the accent or whether it was really his true voice, as it never faltered.

It was a shame Dandini was not given a bigger part in order for Jonathan to really showcase how funny his role could be, as he only featured in a few scenes overall.

Alex Tomkins also gave a standout performance as bumbling Buttons. The audience sighed in sympathy as his love for Cinderella was rejected by her, but he also proved himself to be full of comedic timing as he teamed up with Dandini at the end to learn how to attract women and even tried to woo a rather embarrassed lady in the front row of the audience called Sharon.

The Ugly Sisters, who were played by Carl Patrick and Simon Pontin, were entertaining throughout, as they cracked crude jokes about each other’s appearance and even had 14 costume changes during the show- with each outfit becoming larger and more over the top than the last.

Queen’s Theatre works hard to reach as many members of the community as possible and the Cinderella production is no exception after almost a year has been spent on bringing it to life, as Andrew Pollard began writing all the way back in January and the cast started rehearsals in October.

Although the vocals weren’t outstanding, the confidence and energy of the performers more than made up for it and it was easy to get swept up in the enchanting atmosphere of the theatre, as Cinderella swapped her tough old life for a glittering new happy ending with her one true love.

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