Joel Horwood and Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s fourth pantomime for the Lyric Hammersmith follows the same formula as previous offerings - which is no bad thing, as the formula clearly works. Theirs is a fairly standard retelling of the fairy tale, minimally tinkered with. The step-sisters are suitably grotesque, the Prince suitably charming and sweets are distributed liberally around the auditorium at regular intervals. Horwood and Malcolm have a good ear for teen-speak and their script is peppered with crowd-pleasing pop culture references along with the usual sprinkling of innuendo.
Julie Atherton (Cinderella) and Mel Giedroyc (Mrs Hardup) in Cinderella at the Lyric Hammersmith, London Photo: Tristram Kenton
Lyric panto regular Steven Webb makes a cheeky and endearing Buttons - here a fairy who has lost his wings - and effortlessly gets the audience on side, while Julie Atherton’s Cinderella is easy to root for - strong of voice, quirky, but also a little vulnerable. Mel Giedroyc is clearly having a whale of a time as the cackling Ms Hardup with her Bride of Frankenstein wig and Lady Gaga theme tune, and they’ve really gone to town on the costume design, all meat dresses, conical Madonna bras and a brilliant version of Bjork’s swan Oscars gown.
Sean Holmes, directing his first ever panto, embraces the form. The production feels tighter than last year’s - though not over-polished, there’s still a bit of corpsing - and, among many delights, includes the obligatory Gangnam Style gag, a magnificent Handspring-esque puppet horse, an indoor snowfall and a few moments of genuine stage magic.