Chelmsford City Council & One from the Heart
Civic Theatre, Chelmsford
Saturday 14th December 2013
This year's seasonal offering from the proven team at One from the Heart, in collaboration with Chelmsford City Theatres, brings the magic of Cinderella once again to the Civic stage. One of pantomime's most popular stories, the tale of poor put-upon Cinders, her hapless best friend Buttons, her grotesque pair of stepsisters and her charming Prince are as warmly familiar at Christmas time as mince pies and mulled wine.
Chelmsford have put together a fabulous cast for this year's offering led by the beautiful Sophie Camble in the title role with her strong singing voice and constantly graceful stage presence. Her hilariously mismatched step-sisters are brought to fabulous life by Neal Wright and Richard Foster-King; comic timing pitched perfectly, and donning some truly scene-stealing frocks, they make a memorable team. Their wicked matriarch is played with cackling flair by Suzie Chard, boos and hisses a-plenty but carefully directed this year to minimise the nightmare inducing scares - rewarded by the lack of crying children that so often accompany the baddie scenes. A welcome return to the Civic for the charismatic Lewis Barnard, this year giving us his Buttons, who lights up the stage at every entrance in an utterly engaging performance. Cinders' handsome love interest is strongly played by Tom Parsons, and Rhys Rice as his manservant Dandini brings a spectacular energy to both his comedic sketches and his musical numbers.
Technically the show impresses, with beautiful lighting design, sparkling sets and dazzling costumes. The musical numbers are all delivered with style and skill, with the whole cast getting individual opportunities to shine. Some of the song choices are particularly obscure this year and, as can often be the case with Cinderella, slightly too much of the narrative is taken over by slushy love story that tends to allow the less attentive children's focus to slip. The transformation scene lives up to the audience's magical expectations completely, with oohs and ahhs emanating from the adults and children alike, culminating in the delightful white Shetland ponies live on stage as Cinderella leaves for the ball.
A stylish, professional pantomime to set families up delightfully for the festive season.