This is a lively family pantomime that still believes in fairies. Instead of the semi-comic wand waggler that is fast becoming standard fairy fare, experienced children’s writers Iain Lauchlan and Will Brenton make the Fairy Godmother both a dreamweaver and a catalyst for transformation, climaxing in an expertly choreographed sequence when Ann Micklethwaite’s radiant enchantress summons-up a flying, horse-drawn carriage that takes Cinderella’s downtrodden life in a new direction.
The show adheres to the tradition of the gender-blurring female principal boy. Claire Trusson and Katherine Lunney invest Prince Charming and Dandini with all the right over-the-top, manly swagger. Likewise, Tim Churchill and Steve Fortune’s cosmetically challenged Ugly Sisters, wearing a succession of deranged frocks, are obvious caricatures.
Carly Burns’ Cinderella is certainly no winsome pushover for these two harridans, and Neil Hurst’s jolly Buttons has no trouble drawing the audience into the story. Combining imaginatively staged chorus work with powerful vocals, Robert Marsden’s production easily brings out a clear moral message too – and even includes a fresh twist on the ghost gag.
However, an underpowered slosh scene just looks messy and things tend to flag in the second half, while the cast battle against an ear-grating sound system that probably requires a fairy fix.