Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Panto Review: Linda Gray stars in Cinderella at the New Wimbledon Theatre

New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 9th December

Known for staging the greatest pantomimes in all the land, this year's New Wimbledon Theatre panto is bigger and crazier than ever before. I must admit I had forgotten just how bizarre panto is; Ian Talbot's production ticks all the right boxes and provides a fun family experience.

Linda Gray makes her pantomime debut as the Fairy Godmother. Although she seems to have no idea what is going on, Gray enjoys her time onstage and teases the audience with various Dallas references. It a huge shame that Gray doesn't have her own number and she seems somewhat miscast as a Fairy Godmother as I think she would be perfect as a wicked stepmother or evil Queen.

The rest of the cast are remarkably strong; Tim Vine is naturally funny and quick-witted as Buttons, Wayne Sleep makes the perfect Dandini (and dazzles with a tap-tastic act two opener) whilst James Doherty stands out as Baron Hardup. 

Matthew Kelly and his real life son, Matthew Rixon, play the Ugly Sisters who are geniously named Cheryl and Mel. The concept of having a father and son playing sisters sounds a little odd, but it works a treat as Kelly and Rixon's chemistry couldn't be stronger (and their costumes could not be more outrageous). 

The leading cast is completed by West End favourites Amy Lennox and Liam Doyle who give the strongest vocal performances as Cinderella and Prince Charming. During act two the pair perform a heartfelt duet whilst surrounded by creepy dancing animals. The audience were in hysterics, but Lennox and Doyle powered through without letting their straight faces or strong vocals slip.

The act one finale is beyond spectacular. Of course with Frozen fever sweeping the globe, it was inevitable that songs from the record-breaking Disney movie would feature in pantos across the land this year... and sure enough, just as Cinderella was about to be transformed by her Fairy Godmother she burst into song.

Lennox started belting out 'Let It Go', her rags magically turned into a beautiful dress, then it suddenly started snowing over the audience before two real Shetland ponies lead a carriage onto the stage. I have never witnessed anything like it! My jaw fell to the ground.

3D glasses are handed out during the interval for a special scene during the second half. I wasn't convinced by the prospect, but it was highly effective. Lizzi Gee's choreography is bursting with energy and gives the terrific ensemble moments to shine. 

Packed full with cheesy pop songs and cheap jokes, the New Wimbledon Theatre have pulled another corker of a panto out of the bag. It is quite something!

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins

Cinderella runs at the New Wimbledon Theatre until Sunday 11th January 2015.
Please visit for further information and tickets.

Read our previous interviews with Liam DoyleAmy LennoxIan Talbot

Photo Credit: Craig Sugden

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