Panto returned to the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre last night in a wonderful sparkly style. Cinderella is the first pantomime since lockdown called a halt to Christmas festivities almost two years ago, and it is no understatement to say it is the best panto I have seen in years. The cast is perfect, the show is funny, lovely and warm all in one glittering bundle, and the use of CGI effects make it an awe inspiring spectacle for all ages. I absolutely loved it!
Cinderella is one of the classic pantomimes, and this production has the whole package – a wonderfully spirited Cinders played by the super talented Evie Pickerill, the absolute epitome of a local girl done good, a suitably handsome prince, played in ‘charming’ style by Strictly’s elegant dancer AJ Pritchard, an evil stepmother Baroness Hardup played by Julie Stark, vamping it up in villainous style, and two ugly sisters, now updated brilliantly into social media influencers (it has to be said to hilarious effect in their pursuit of two audience members) Tess (Ella Biddlecombe) and Claudia (Britt Lenting).
There is a beautiful Fairy Godmother, played by the ageless Denise Pearson from Five Star, absolutely resplendent and giving this Five Star fan chills with her vocals, and the legendary Ian Adams is back as the Dame, Penny Pocket, all funny costumes and audience pleasing one liners. The cast is rounded out by two outstanding performances from the hilarious Tam Ryan who plays a very knowing Buttons, full of hilarious comments about everything, from comparing one of the ugly sisters to Boris Johnson to making local jokes about Wolverhampton ‘and surrounding areas’ (if you know, you know). The prince’s valet, Dandini is the wonderful Curtis Pritchard, who is an absolute revelation – brilliantly athletic and totally able to send himself up, whilst delivering great vocals and a brilliant all round performance. Truly this is a dream cast.
But it is not just the cast that is perfect in this performance. The staging is absolutely magical, combining CGI effects and animation to create beautiful backdrops and scenery, as well as moving the action along. Cinderella’s trip to the ball is exquisite, as an adult I was enthralled, and the children in the audience actually gasped. The songs are also great, combining well known pop tunes with panto classics, and a version of the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ that is pretty unforgettable.
Panto is finally back and it is better than ever. Cinderella is an absolute triumph for all involved, the must see panto in the Midlands this Christmas.
Saturday 4 December 2021 – Sunday 9 January 2022
Performance times vary, please see website here.
Tickets from £16.50*
*A £4 booking fee applies to all purchases.