I was lucky enough to be sent a couple of VIP tickets to the Lawrence Batley Theatre's Christmas Pantomime Cinderella on their Press and VIP night. Cinderella is the first in house produced show in 10 years and tells the classic story:
In a fairy-tale kingdom, poor Cinderella is a servant to her cruel stepmother and ugly stepsisters. When a handsome prince invites all the maidens of the land to his party, she only has rags to wear. With the help of her friend Buttons and a sprinkling of magic from her Fairy Godmother, will she make it to the ball after all?
This classic rags to riches story includes everything you love about a traditional pantomime – sparkling scenery, stunning costumes, plenty of audience interaction, well-known songs and live music – with two dames for twice the laughs.
Come along for a show that’s suitable for all ages – you’ll have a ball!
From the start we knew we were in for a great evening, with a fantastic colourful and well-designed set (we were above and on the back row of the theatre but had a fantastic view), the costumes were lavish and although a small cast, the acting superb from the off, a bubbly fairy godmother who doubled as Baroness Hardup the wicked stepmother (Natasha Magigi), an engaging hero and heroine and brilliant comedy supplied by Kylie and Miley, the ugly sisters.
Written by Andrew Pollard and directed by Joyce Branagh, the story is a Yorkshire twist on the traditional tale as Ella (Nisa Cole) is from Huddersfield and the Prince (Adam Barlow) is the Prince of Dewsbury, ably aided by Dandini (or Danielle) as the Prince tries to be better at wooing girls. The Prince is not cool and his attempts to be so, including some suspect twerking, convinces Dandini (Stephanie Hackett) to swop places with him.
Ella is at the mercy of her evil Stepmother and her two daughters the ugly sisters (Michael Hugo and Richard Hand), who were hilarious, particularly in a bathing scene and a mish-mash of songs where they lament not getting the man. There is a well suited mix of modern and traditional music throughout (Madonna, Abba, Queen), energetic dance routines (some with shades of Priscilla Queen of the Desert), and the only low was an early joke by Buttons (Gareth Bailey) that fell flat and he assured the audience that this would be the level of the jokes. Thankfully it wasn't.
We took along our friend and her eleven year old daughter and in the interval we bought sweets and a programme for her to keep (she thought she recognised Cinderella and sure enough, after a check of IMDB, it was revealed the Nisa did indeed star in, one of her favourite shows The Sparticle Mystery, as Tiny, though she is probably better known by most as Amy Porter in Waterloo Road).
There was a group in the row in front of us from a local football club and one older woman in particular threw herself into joining in, shouting out that yes the ugly sisters bottom did look big in this, vociferous booing and comments back to the wicked stepmother plus an energetic round of Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. At the end, when she asked the young girl in front of her to 'tweet or facebook' about the performance you could see and hear that she really meant what she had said earlier, that the pantomime had transported her back to her childhood. It truly is a performance for all ages.
The Pantomime runs until the 31st of December, so be sure to book a ticket and enjoy a Christmas treat for all the family.
Tickets £10-£17, under 16 £2 off, Family Saver: 5 tickets for £65
Box Office: 01484 430528