The dames have their scores
Panto season is well underway and the classic festive tradition is alive and kicking in Wimbledon. Tackling the familiar tale of Cinderella, the company dazzle in their costumes, strut out slick choreography and whip up plentiful Christmas magic though maybe not enough to stand out in the crowded panto landscape.
Dipping casually into the world of Cinderella, we meet the downtrodden heroin, desperate to escape the clutches of her overbearing stepmother, Baroness Demonica Hardup played by infamous strictly villain Craig Revel Horwood and her two step sisters aptly named Claudia and Tess. She sees her opportunity when Prince Charming invites the kingdom to a ball so he can hopefully find a future bride but of course, the dastardly Baroness will not let her attend. But with a little wave of her Fairy Godmother’s wand and help from her best friend Buttons Cinderella is whisked off to the ball, glass slippers and all. But of course with pantomimes the plot is hardly the reason we are all here. We want camp musical numbers, silly jokes and a villain we can all boo - and of course Wimbledon delivers.
Horwood leads the cast, relishing playing the villain in whichever production or show he finds himself in - he only just wrapped up playing Miss Trunchball in Annie, does this man ever rest? The hips sway and the footwork is on point as he cha chas around the stage before delivering dry innuendos and strictly come dancing references a plenty. It is Pete Firman who carries this production however. His Buttons is the lifeblood of the show as he barely leaves the stage, in between quick off-the-cuff jokes and some seriously impressive magic to boot. His audience work is strong, offering plenty of quips that whoosh over the heads of the younger audience members and cooly handled the unpredictability of bringing children on stage to join in the sing-a-long - a proper talent.
Ian Westbrook’s set and Mike Coltman’s speciality costume design sparkle as you would expect from a well-put-together pantomime and the conclusion of Act 1 is punctuated by a seriously impressive flying carriage sequence that sees the pumpkin carriage and horses soar over the first few rows of the auditorium - though the accompanying costumes of the dancing horses were a little unnerving. Lizzi Gee’s choreography is punchy and effective, performed delightfully by the skilful ensemble - a highlight being the magnificent reworked version of ‘Dance the Night Away’ from the Barbie movie which is surely going to be a staple for this season.
As pantomimes go, this one ticks all the boxes and children young and old are sure to find themselves caught up in the festivities. There is undeniably scope to go bigger and bolder but this production remains an infectious Christmas staple that will leave you laughing and rolling your eyes in equal measure. Fab-u-lous.
Running until 7th January - Tickets
Photography - Craig Sugden