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Tag: Hayley Ria Christian

Cinderella Panto Review

Cinderella Panto Review

With the arrival of the Festive season, comes the arrival of Panto season………'”OOH yes it is” A time when theatre land truly comes to life, and the young and young at heart enjoy the retelling of classic fairy tales with added romamce,dancing, sing songs, slap stick comedy and more one liners than a page of dot to dots #sorrynotsorry

This year’s Cinderella panto at the historic Manchester Operah House does not disappoint! I went along with 2 of my youngest reviewers (my children) to see just what fun and frivolities were involved, and the girls first taste of Panto delight!

On receiving the programme, an all star cast shone out. Gareth Gates, originally of Pop Idol fame, now a household musical theatre name, steps out as Prince Charming. His chisled jaw and dimpled cheeks quickly win over the audience. He is every bit the dashing Prince, with his upper class accent and air of nobility to his posture. His vocal talents have a smooth tone to them and woos Cinders with his love songs.

Cinderella is played by Shannon Flynn, who has appeared in many tv and radio shows to date. Shannon has a wonderfully sincere and understated quality to her acting, perfect for the dowdy Princess to be. She has a natural presence on stage and sings with a sweet quality. A special magical moment is when she ‘transforms from her rags into a shining full length gown with just a twirl, right before your very eyes. My children were in awe!

Cinderella could not undergo her huge transformation if it wasn’t for her Fairy Godmother, aka Hayley Ria Christian. Hayley has many theatre credits under her now sparkly belt as well as being one of the Uk’s go to soul vocalists, something that is immediately apparent with the opening of the show, and her first song. She mixes power ballad and smooth soul sounds seamlessly.

The love struck Buttons, played by comedian Ben Nickless, remains firmly in the friend zone by being Cinders side kick and right hand man. The puns roll effortlessly out of him, giving the audience some great bet laugh moments. His impersonations are so realistic in both audible and visual aspects, it’s as though he has been possessed with their souls!

Who could forget the Ugly Sisters Phelkna and Michaela, played by Coronation Steet duo Connor McIntyre and legendary Law Dennis. The pair work so well together, bouncing off eachother, in some scenes quite literally too, with their outlandish and down right hilarious costumes, which trigger laughter as soon as they step out from the wings. The laughter became contagious to those even on the stage, with the actors all stiffling their sniggers. They are the characters we all love to hate, and Connor and Les certainly revel in the boos and hisses.

The special effects and audience participation are what really bring the magic to the panto. Buttons has some wonderful scenes involving some water pistols of varying sizes. Avoid the stalls if you lack in humour or melt when in contact with water!

The Ugly Sisters also participate with a bit of audience banter, picking out a gentleman to ask for his name, which they refer back to on numerous occasions, and who provides the butt for some of their jokes.

The highlight for me, and certainly my children was the flying pumpkin coach and horses. The special fairy godmother magic enabled the coach containing Cinderella and the Prince to levitate up off the stage and out into the stalls, with galloping strides from the horses. My slightly sinical child yelled and pointed that there were indeed ‘no strings’ and that magic was truly involved! A special moment.

Some special unplanned moments also made this panto one I shall never forget. Les forgetting the name of the audience member and replacing it with one from the matinee show had the cast in giggles. How he and Connor used ad lib to include the mistake into the script is a sign of true masters of their craft. During the rendition of Panto classic “if I was not in pantomine” song, where The Ugly Sisters, Buttons and the Prince were racing up and down the stage with various props and buckets of water (health and safety would have a coronary) Connor’s towering wig fell of and was rolling about the stage. It was a perfect cherry on the already iced, slightly wonky cake, but hey, that’s panto!

All in all, Cinderella was a huge hit. Everyone, young and old enjoyed the musical theatre delights. There were dance scenes that could have been plucked straight from a Disneyland parade, brightly coloured costumes, fireworks that were not of the metaphorical kind, and a heap load of jokes that included ones for all ages!

Theatre is a magical place in itself and one I’m so grateful I can share with my children. Pantos provide a perfect opportunity for families to come together and share the magic, and Cinderella does not disappoint!

Cinderella pantomime is on at The Opera House until 30th Dec. Tickets can still be purchased and all information is available on their website https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/cinderella/opera-house-manchester/

Special thanks goes to the team at the Operah House Manchester and Phil Tragen Photography.

“He’s behind you”…………..

Dance Niche

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