REVIEW: Having a ball at Cinderella in Mansfield’s Palace Theatre

Measure success in screams and Cinderella is the number one panto in the land - well, in Nottinghamshire.

The kids are always loud and vocal in Mansfield’s Palace Theatre and this year they need very little prompting from the cast of Cinderella.

Ruth Madoc as Fairy Godmother in Cinderella at Mansfield Palace Theatre

Ruth Madoc as Fairy Godmother in Cinderella at Mansfield Palace Theatre

‘Give it to her’ they scream at the Ugly Sisters as they toy with Cinderella’s golden invitation to the Prince’s ball. However, few could guess what fate the kids had in mind for the Uglies last night (Friday, December 6) when ‘Kill ‘em’ from one corner of the theatre brought the house down.

Fortunately, no blood was shed, just tears of laughter at the antics of the little and large Ugly Sisters, aka Bobbie Kent and Damian Hutchinson.

The gruesome twosome make spectacular entrances in magnificent costumes such as hamburger and fries, lit-up Christmas tree and snow globe. A particular shout-out to company manager Damian for stepping into Gertie’s platform shoes after the original actor, Anthony West, was hospitalised with a stomach problem just days before the panto launch.

Good though the Uglies are, the show is owned lock, stock and barrel by Dave Benson Phillips in the role of Buttons. A consummate entertainer, he knows just what makes a crowd tick, playing both adults and kids like a maestro pianist

Martine McMenemy scrubs up well as the rags-to-riches Cinderella with a lilting Scottish voice and is a good match for Jamie-Ray Hartshorn’s dashing prince in the singing stakes.

Ruth Madoc is the big-name sparkler in the role of Fairy Godmother but can’t resist slipping into Gladys’ yellow blazer for a Hi-de-Hi sketch at the start of the second half. She even has a gentle joke at the expense of her Yellowcoat colleague, Su Pollard, who is starring as a magical mermaid in Peter Pan at Nottingham Theatre Royal.

There’s plenty in the panto to attract people from over the Derbyshire border. Chesterfield’s Richard Colson plays Baron Hardup and pupils from the town’s Academy of Dance and Directions Theatre Arts form a lively ensemble.

The magic and wonder in this panto go together like the real-life Shetland ponies which draw Cinders’ coach to the ball. Make sure you catch it before the date strikes January 6, 2014.

GAY BOLTON