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Cinderella – A Sparkly Christmas Spectacular!

Music, dance, singing, pyrotechnics, special effects and an awful lot of glitter, it's panto time at the Theatre Royal Norwich and we absolutely loved it - oh yes we did!

It’s been many years since I last went to the panto – far too many to think about without reaching for the gin – so I was more than a little excited to head down to the Theatre Royal for a touch of pre-Christmas magic! I’d flicked through the programme and noticed a few familiar names from stage and screen, so I was hoping for that perfect festive combination of music, dance and laughter, all wrapped up together with some glitter and sparkle. After all, that’s what panto’s all about!

From the moment the curtain went up, that sparkle was there in the form of Richard Gauntlett’s Fairy Godmother, appearing in a puff of smoke and soaring above the stage in a silver crescent moon. To the delight of both children and adults in the audience, each wave of the Fairy Godmother wand heralded pyrotechnics, special effects, and of course, an awful lot of glitter. Whether it was Cinderella’s magical dress transformation, her golden coach with its flying white horse or the rain that poured down on poor Buttons, it was clear that an awful lot of effort had gone into the stage set, but from the wide eyes of the children around me, it was worth every single moment.

The pairing of Alix Dunmore and Amanda Henderson as the Ugly Sisters was a match made in panto heaven. Their quick-fire bickering was word-perfect and their facial expressions were worthy of a show all to themselves. David Gant’s Shakespeare-spouting Baron Hardup was a wonderful foil to Joe Tracini’s language-mangling Buttons (‘Are you ‘avin’ a laff?’!) and Kara-Lianne Jones’ Cinderella was beautifully angelic, with a voice that soared to the rafters. We were also treated to a special guest appearance from a very famous local face: I’ll say no more, but watch out for the postman…

But it wasn’t just the main cast who pulled out all the stops for the performance. The supporting ensemble brought energy and life to each scene; the dance routines were superb and the tiny ballerinas stole the show with both their professionalism and the undeniable ‘cute factor’ (a special mention here to Lily-Mae, ringlets and all, who melted every heart in the theatre). From energetic workouts in the Nodgechester City Fitness Club – in yellow and green kit, obviously – to elegant twirls and dips in the Palace Ballroom, the choreography and costumes were superb. I had serious dance and dress envy!

It’s a hard task to reinvent a family classic without resorting to cliche and the panto took us on a few unexpected twists and turns along the way. All that mattered, however, was that the famous glass slipper found its way back to Cinderella and that happily-ever-after came about (despite the best efforts of King’s Lynn and a packet of HobNobs). There was more sparkle and glitter than even I had expected, and I left the theatre with a smile on my face and the sense that Christmas was finally here. It may be many years since I had last been to a pantomime, but it turns out that I’m still a sucker for a happy ending.

Cinderella runs until January 17th 2020 and tickets can be booked through the Theatre Royal website (prices vary)

Words: Hannah Colby

Photo Credit: Muddy Award Winning – Richard Jarmy Photography

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