One can’t help but notice that looking at this year’s line-up for the New Theatre’s pantomime that it has more stars than usual. Casualty’s Lee Mead, Welsh Rugby legend, Gareth “Alfie” Thomas, Sam Kane, Linda Lusardi, Welsh comedians Andy Jones and Mike Doyle and last but not least Barry’s own rising star, actress Holly Bluett.
Featuring an impressive line-up however doesn’t always guarantee success, a pantomime has to capture the whole family’s attention for over two hours as well as adding a little extra something special to a well trodden fairy-tale story line. That something special certainly exists in multitudes with Cinderella, each of the all-star line up bringing something individual to the table.
Gareth Thomas stage appeal goes far beyond having a strong fan following, his role as Dandini allows him to gently poke fun at his real-life persona as well as allow him to endure several bouts of slapstick humour in character.
Lee Mead is the suave Prince Charming is ready to set not only Cinder’s heart aflutter but also many female fans as he sings several numbers including Pharrel’s Happy and Any Dream Will Do.
Sam Kane and Mike Doyle deliver a larger than life comedic portrayal of The Ugly sisters Alisha and Amanda, getting as many laughs as they do boos and hisses.
Andy Jones and Linda Lusardi are essential ingredients to the production as Buttons and The Fairy Godmother respectively. Both have a distinct knack in classic vaudevillian delivery, in Andy’s case, with a dash of Eric Morecambe comedy in places, while Linda shows diversity with a comedic tongue twister of an exchange with The Ugly Sisters as well as performing a song and dance routine with The Lori Guppy Dancers.
Holly Bluett makes her professional panto debut as Cinder’s and is the icing on the cake of an all ready talented cast proving her worth as a singer, dancer and actress. Her duet with Lee Mead is certainly a moment to savour.
The shows comic highlights belong to Thomas’s Dandini pairing with The Ugly Sisters on the song I’m sexy and I Know It and Lusardi, Mead, Jones and Thomas coming together for traditional slapstick comedy on If I was Not in Pantomime…
For everything you could ever want in a traditional pantomime and more besides, Cinderella will have you whooping, cheering and crying with laughter – don’t miss this festive treat of a show. Runs until January 18, 2015.
This review by Andy Howells was published in The South Wales entertainment supplement The Guide on December 18, 2014.