It’s officially panto season. I’m about to loose my panto performing virginity but for now, I’m still a spectator. Last night, I went to the other side of the tracks to watch Worthings annual panto and this year it’s a story we all know and love, Cinderella. As always, I’ll be completely honest about how I feel about the show. I think this year especially I’m a hard critique as I’m currently in rehearsal for a panto. I found it hilarious how many similarities there were between my panto and this one but that’s the culture for you- people love the tradition. I’ve seen Snow White and Aladdin at the The Pavilion and bar a few issues, enjoyed both lots! But, did Cinderella live up to the previous years? Here we go….
Why oh why are we still casting slightly irrelevant celebrities instead of talented aspiring musical theater actors? This absolutely makes sense if the cast have the talent to back themselves but I don’t really understand the business move casting people that can’t quite keep up. This isn’t aimed at anyone in particular but I just would love to see some proper TALENT and I know the public would want that too. In terms of marketing, I’m not totally sure how may people these ‘names’ actually bring in. Come on producers, save a bit of money, hire graduates and put on a better show. RANT OVER.
Where do we start? First of all, my favorite character was SURPRISE SURPRISE not a soap star and in fact a drama school graduate. Katie Pritchard who played the fairy was fabulous. She had a wonderful voice that I would have loved to hear more of. Her characterization of a trainee fairy godmother was spot on. Another fave of mine was Mark Jones, revising his role of the ‘Buttons’ role. He was great last year as Wishee Washee and made the show for me. I think these roles can be really hard and require a lot of comedic timing and improvisation skills. He was great and really elevated the show for me. The role of Prince Charming was played by Mark Read, who was in the boy band A1. I can’t say I’m familiar with him but he had a lovely voice and I did enjoy his performance.
HOWEVER. Cinderella was played by TV PRESENTER Naomi Wilkinson. Unfortunately, I was underwhelmed by her performance. Her singing was showcased in the form of ‘Shallow’ from A Star Is Born. A GREAT choice of song for a pantomime in 2019 but on this occasion, a star was definitely not born. I’m not sure why the MD/Director would choose a powerhouse song like this for someone with a voice not as strong as the other cast members. Characters like Cinderella are hard to portray as they are very wet. She did really well with the characterization and had a good manner about her, not surprising seeing as she’s a kids TV presenter. She just had no SHINE and I would have loved to see a young spunky actress belting for her life on that stage.
Unfortunately, i was also underwhelmed with the ‘Dame’ characters in the form of the ugly stepsisters. I’m not sure if it’s the direction or the acting to blame but it just wasn’t funny. There’s SO MUCH potential for a comedy duo like this but the mark was just missed. The kids loved it and they got laughs but it just wasn’t enough for me. Maybe my standards are higher than that.
i feel like I’ve given the cast enough shit now so here were the good bits. All the physical comedy gags were great including the classic ’12 days of Christmas’ sketch. The ensemble was full of great dancers whom I’m sure could have done a better job of the singing. The ballet sequences were so lovely and really elevated the whole thing. The set, music, band and lighting were amazing and really impressive! The simple cloth designs paired with elaborate glittery costumes really created such a spectacle and I did feel transported to Disney land for a second.
So, should you go and see this? Honestly, if you’re local and looking for something fun to get you in the spirit- go for it! I forget not everyone has such hard views on casting as me and you’ll probably love it. But, if you’re on my side of the A27, I would save my money and go watch something more local. I do like the Pavilion Theatre and it’s always such a great experience I just think this year was lacking something. I need a high note or a sexy harmony to get me through and I had neither.