It has been billed as the World’s biggest panto, the only one that could boast of a cast of 100, an award winning gospel choir and a Bollywood dance troop. Cinderella opened in Birmingham at the Barclaycard Arena on Sunday night and it is totally wowing audiences with his mixture of panto, circus, dance and song. It is more than a mere pantomime, it may well be the ultimate Christmas spectacle. I was spellbound.
We all know the story of Cinderella so I don’t think I’m spoiling the surprise for anyone when I say all the elements of the original story are in place, albeit with a slight twist in the tale. The handsome prince and his trusty sidekick Dandini are played by Dick and Dom with lots of verve and fun, and plenty of bogie mentions. The ugly sisters are very ugly indeed, as played by Brum faves, Foxy and Giuliano from Free Radio, all local jokes and stubble, whilst Hannah Grover is a perfect Cinders, pretty, pert and with the voice of an angel.
But of course, there are two comedy stalwarts in this panto, and they both absolutely shine like true stars. Paul O Grady is just hilarious, as dry and acerbic as ever as The (Fairy) Godfather, from the minute he flies in he has the audience captive, especially in a scene with a rather wonderful (talking…well sort of) horse, or when he scares off a 3d snake with a ‘Birkenhead headbutt’. He makes a wonderful double act with the brilliant Bradley Walsh, playing Buttons and literally holding the whole thing together with his wit and wisecracks. No one is safe from Walsh, not even a little boy taking a toilet trip. This is a performer at his peak, making that huge stage is own.
Cinderella is the most fun you will have this Christmas, warm and funny, and full of traditional Christmas cheer, from familiar songs, singing and dancing reindeers, polar bears and penguins, even with snowballs that bounce around the auditorium. As I mentioned in the introduction, the whole performance is a spectacle – from Bollywood Dreams singing and dancing to Slade, to the fantastic Birmingham Community Gospel Choir totally wowing with their amazing voices and gutsy performances. There were also fantastic feats performed circus style and the 3d effects which added to the all-round feeling that you were witnessing something truly special.
With a finale that could be bottled and sold as Christmas, this is truly one of the greatest shows the Barclaycard Arena has seen. I loved every single minute of it. An absolute must see.
Cinderella has two performances per day concluding on Christmas Eve. Find Ticket information here.