This year’s pantomime offering in Wakefield boasts some intriguing twists to the traditional Cinderella plot, top-drawer costuming and choreography and a sparkling debut duo of Ugly Sisters.
The twists include a Fairy Godmother, played by the gorgeous Kirby Hughes, who turns out to be the ghost of Cinders’ dead mum. The costuming is lavish and Louise Denison’s choreography is sparing and unfussy. In Ugly Sisters Chardonnay and Lambrini, played by Chris Hannon and James Parkes respectively, we have performers so skilled, slick and funny that at last we may have discovered a pair who are at least within shouting distance of surely the greatest Ugly Sisters of them all, Ellacott and Robbins. This team were in a league of their own prior to Peter Robbins untimely death in 2009.
Mark Jardine gives a charming old buffer turn as King Engelbert, while I probably own underpants older than the skilful and youthful Alistair Higgins as Buttons, who is working in his first job after drama school. Prince Edward is played with aplomb by Ben Irish, but the real strength is in the script, by Johnathan Stone, who also plays the wicked Countess Donna La Trix, Her presence allows the Ugly Sisters to play more for chuckles, while easing back on the boo-hiss factor.
Add a band in the pit led by Jim Lunt and the happy result is a sparkling Yorkshire pantomime in an atmospheric Frank Matcham theatre.