Little known fact– I’ve seen AT LEAST one pantomime every year since I was four years old. This is due in part to an upbringing that involved Christmas promotions (thanks Dad) working in theatre, and reviewing productions as an entertainments journalist. Which means I’ve seen upwards of 35 pantos (you can do the age maths). I remember being enchanted by my first ever panto – a production of Peter Pan. When Peter flew across the audience, scattering us with glitter? Well, that four-year-old was enchanted. I love panto. I love the fact it’s only a thing here in the UK, and if you try to describe it to someone from elsewhere they look at you like you’re barking. I love that for many children it’s their first introduction to real, live theatre. I love too all the traditions it comes with – something many kids get to realise pretty quickly if they go more than once. The ‘he’s behind yous’, the ‘boos and hisses’, the playing up to the audience, the dames, I could go on, but you get the picture.
Panto is tradition. But, and here’s the secret, for it to be a truly wonderful pantomime, you can’t trust solely in the tradition. Because yes, you need to have the parts people recognise, but you also need the extras – the moments of theatre magic that only come from a talented cast, a witty script, and a stunning set. I’m thrilled to say there was all that and a wands’ worth of magic in Cinderella at The Capitol last night.
The entire cast were truly excellent. I’ve watched pantos where I’ve endured caterwauling from little-known celebs and terrible lip-syncing. So it was incredibly refreshing and utterly delightful to rest easy when I realised every, single, one, of the cast could sing incredibly well (and dance! and act!). To single them out seems unfair to all those I haven’t space to mention (though know you all were incredible), but suffice it to say everyone who gets a solo smashes it. Siobhan Athwal who plays Cinderella does the whole thing with a cheeky nod to the audience. This is Cinderella in 2022, where the women are feisty, not fragile, and she belts out song after song effortlessly. Speaking of singing, we need to take a moment to recognise the insane level of talent from Emma Lindars, who plays the Fairy Godmother. Boy can she sing. So much so, I’ve downloaded her album…
Buttons, played by Niall Sheehy brings such light to his role. He has the worst lines (on purpose), and delivers them brilliantly, but not just that, he can handle a panto audience on a Thursday night who are a bit quiet. Kudos.
The script, written by Samuel Holmes, is excellent – a touch on the nose at times, but frankly, when the adults in the audience are laughing so hard they’re crying, it really doesn’t matter that the kids are looking a little unsure. Almost stealing the show was the beautiful set design which gave a nod to an old London theatre, complete with stunning lighting and the most magical transformation scene, which ticked all the fairy-tale boxes. Cinderella is a jewel of a panto. I’m hopeful that somewhere there’s another 4 year old just waiting to be enchanted as this is the panto that’ll do it. Enjoy it, cherish it and tell others of its magic.
And now, a review from one of our younger reporters:
“I really enjoyed the 2022 Cinderella pantomime. It was both fun and engaging, with many ways to interact for adults and children. It felt like the cast were expertly chosen as they were all great at singing and acting; Buttons who was great at showing emotions, Cinderella (Ella) could hit notes both high and low excellently, and the prince who paired perfectly with Ella when singing duos.
In addition, the jokes were truly funny for both adults and children (some of which were especially aimed at adults)! This pantomime also felt culturally accurate with music that younger theatre goers will recognise and a badly performed Tik Tok dance from the Dames. The characters also felt modern, with Cinderella being unlike the helpless damsel of old and instead feisty but relatable.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Capitol’s performance of Cinderella and would recommend it to any family looking to have an amazing day out.”
Cinderella is at The Capitol, Horsham until Saturday 31 December, book your tickets via www.thecapitolhorsham.com or call 01403 750220.
Contributed by Lisa Brace, and Dylan.
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