With the always fabulous (but very naughty) Julian Clary leading the cast, ‘Cinderella’, which opened at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre last night, was always going to be the bawdiest panto on offer this year, but it is also glittery, glamorous and oh so funny.
Telling that aged-old story of a beautiful girl victimised by a couple of pug-ugly step-sisters, who then wins the heart of the handsome prince when she is the belle of the ball, only to have to run away on the stroke of midnight, leaving a rather gorgeous shoe behind, the Grand’s retelling stuck to the tale the audience know and love. What it did differently however, was to elevate two of the supporting characters to starring roles to accommodate the panto’s leading stars, Hollyoaks Joe Tracini and, of course, Julian Clary.
I don’t watch Hollyoaks so was not familiar with Tracini, but he is a revelation. A panto natural full of charm, his Buttons soon became an audience favourite, whether he was dancing in an hilariously awful fashion to ‘Happy’, or stunning all with his beautiful rendition of John Legend’s ‘All of Me.’ Julian Clary plays Dandini as quite the dandiest, well dressed panto character you have ever seen, totally upstaging poor old Cinders in the costume stakes. He was just hilarious, his tone-deaf talking singing just reducing an audience to dissolving in laughter, with the line, ‘what this panto needs is me singing a Whitney Houston number…’ basically killing it. Naughty? Absolutely. Funny? You betcha – he has the audience in the palm of his beautifully manicured hands.
There are so many other elements that make this a magical pantomime. The Ugly Sisters are suitably villainous and comical in equal parts, with the costumes they wear for the ball just a joy to behold. Nicki Evans returns to Wolverhampton as a gorgeous fairy Godmother, although I could do without the over-the-top Midland accent. She is part of the most wonderful scene, the transformation scene, and although I won’t spoil it for you by saying how she gets to the ball, it is safe to say both adults and children were totally awe-struck by this wonderful set-piece.
Cinderella is great fun for the whole family and I would totally recommend it.
Cinderella runs at the Wolverhampton Grand from 10th December until 18th January. For ticket information, click here.