Cinderella – Venue Cymru ***

You are invited into a world of pure imagination for Venue Cymru’s 2018 pantomime. Cinderella is an enchanting effort from both cast and crew. Whilst never completely whisking us away to another world, it nevertheless casts a few magical spells that will delight young and old alike.

Carly Burns plays a bubbly and bright Cinderella. Her Prince Charming comes in the form of Tom Parker from The Wanted. Together, they make a delightful pairing. Ably assisted by Herbie Adams as Buttons and Natalie Winsor as the Fairy Godmother, it is clear that this show is about one thing: having fun. The smile on the face of Parker is particularly infectious. It is obvious that he is relishing his role, even if he does come up short in the acting department. The director makes sure that Parker plays to his strength though. This pantomime is more musical than in previous years, and it is the leading man that benefits. “Come Alive” is perhaps the highlight of Parker’s musical performances, although his duet with Burns on “In Your Heart” comes a very close second.

One of the most magical moments of this pantomime arrives just prior to the interval. With her invitation to the ball now in pieces thanks to her ugly sisters Tess and Claudia (see what they did there) it appears that Cinders’ hopes of meeting the Prince are dashed. That is, until Winsor pops up with her wand to save the day. Her spell works wonders. It results in a truly mesmerising transformation on stage. Cinders’ rags suddenly become a magnificent gown. Two real-life ponies enter stage right pulling an elegantly decorated carriage. The scenery changes to become a snowy white backdrop. This is what dreams are made of.

This is the ultimate fairy tale scene. Along with the music, it makes Cinderella an enjoyable show. Throw in some cheesy jokes, the odd satirical quip, and some sexual innuendo, and you have the essential pantomime mix. The problem comes when you put a bit too much of the latter into the bowl. There is such a thing as overegging the pudding. Ventriloquist Dawson Chance (Baron Hardup) does just this. He may start out with good intentions. But, ultimately, every one of his routines seems to descend into crudeness. There is a very fine line to walk with such humour. And Chance fails to walk it. Some of his material may have worked thirty or forty years ago. But times change. Some things are best left in the past.

Overall, Cinderella has to be one of Venue Cymru’s best pantomimes of the last couple of years. Everything seems to have come together nicely, from the choreography to the set design, costumes to the props. Not everything is perfectly executed in the final piece. But there is still enough to dazzle and delight this festive season.

To book tickets, click here.

Originally written as part of the Young Critics North Wales scheme on 10th December 2018.

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