Grove Theatre, Dunstable
3pm, 22 December 2015
I love Cinderella as a panto – even though the character of Cinders is a right cow to Buttons for most of it – because it has everything, magic, love and hilarious misunderstandings – and this year’s production at the Grove has it all.
The dames are key to this panto – usually comedy characters, in Cinderella they are villains – albeit comedic ones – and there are two of them working off each other, all of which makes the Ugly Sister roles some of the most interesting and demanding in panto.
So full credit goes to Joshua Pascoe (a former Ben Mitchell in EastEnders) who was not only playing a dame for the first time but was also making his panto debut – and totally pulled it off with a good balance of comedy and villainy. Luckily he had the super experienced Leslie Grantham by his side and together they made a good post-EastEnders double act with Grantham liberally insulting everyone in sight – including the audience!
Lucy Reed as Cinderella was sweet and charming and former Blue singer, Anthony Costa was quite a dashing prince – with a good voice obvs – and his transition from posh prince to east end geezer in a sentence provided a lot of laughs.
His indignance at being expected to sing Blue songs was very funny, matched only by Buttons, Dandini (Craig Golding) and Baron Hardup (Richard Tate) performing a medley of them (complete with stools and mikes) before Costa’s triumphant return for One Love. The adults loved it – but I did have to explain the “sad, sad situation” bit to V on the way home!
Providing the main, and I have to say effortless, comedy was Mawaan Rizwan as Buttons – funny, friendly and not to mention flexible, V laughed whenever he appeared, as did the rest of the audience who were in the palm of his hand. The success of this character is based in how sad you feel at his rejection and I definitely felt sad when meanie Cinderella chose Costa over him.
The magic transformation scene thankfully didn’t use the overused and obvious body double ruse. Cinders just reappeared in her beautiful new dress in the middle of a joyous sixties soul mix led by the superbly voiced Jasette Amos as the Fairy Godmother. Sadly there was no carriage – I thought V would complain but she was too happy about the fireworks to mind!
Put all these enjoyable performances together with great costumes and excellent choreography and Cinderella is a hit!
Buttons was my favourite because he told great jokes.
Run time: About 2 hours, 10 minutes including a 20 minute interval.
Age range: It’s panto, it’s for everyone!
Other stuff: Programme £3.50. Various flashy things at £5-£6.