It’s panto season! Oh no it’s not. Oh yes it is. Oh no it’s not… Oh… I’m so sorry!..

Yes it’s time once again for the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch to roll out the sparkly costumes for their annual Christmas panto. This year it’s Cinderella who takes centre stage, and what a stage it is! There are moments in this production where the slapstick self deprecation drops revealing some absolutely stunning staging. To the point where you could be forgiving for thinking you were watching Mathew Bourne’s sublime Swan Lake. Like all Pantomimes, Cinderella here in Hornchurch, delights in moments when things go wrong, either a missed cue or a failed prop. But beyond that there is some very well thought out staging that is more at home in serious theatre.

There are no real surprises in this production, but then I for one don’t want any in a pantomime. We go to see a pantomime for the familiar story lines and slap stick routines. We go to feel happiness at the outcome and to boo the hissing and snarling villain and of course to laugh. All of these things are plentiful in Cinderella. I found the supporting characters particularly engaging, and although everyone gave a brilliant performance, I felt there were times where the leads we’re in danger of being shadowed by the brilliant Etisyai Philip as the Fairy Godmother and Alex Tomkins as Buttons.

The Wicked Stepmother and the ugly sisters we’re hilarious and a delight as was the audience participation throughout the show. In my case that involved a lot of attention from one Ugly Sister in particular, who at one point promised me I was going home with them! For me though the star of the show was Jonathan Charles as Italian aristocrat, Dandini. It was a pleasure whenever he was on stage, and I found myself looking forward to the next moment he would be on again. Extremely engaging and very easy for the to warm to him.

Cinderella runs until the 14th January, and is a wonderful evening of fun and laughter. Tickets and further information is available from http://www.queens-theatre.co.uk/whats-on/show/cinderella/

I loved this production and it really got me into the festive spirit, For me Christmas, isn’t Christmas without a pantomime, and the Queen’s Theatre’s Cinderella did just the trick.

I will leave you with the thoughts of two little reviewers who came with me;

“It was fantastic and I really liked when the step sisters talked to my Daddy and I loved their singing”

“I thought it was really funny because they said really funny jokes. I liked the way the fairy was dressed and the Prince was very handsome.”

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