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Cinderella review at Alhambra Theatre, Bradford – ‘stage-filling magnetism’

The cast of Cinderella at the Alhambra Theatre, Bradford The cast of Cinderella at the Alhambra Theatre, Bradford
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The Bradford Alhambra pantomime, part of the Qdos stable, is one of the biggest in the country and this year it doesn’t spare the (flying) horses.

Lavish as it is, it’s the sight of a man standing alone on stage holding the audience in the palm of his hand that demonstrates the true power of this odd British tradition.

This is Billy Pearce’s 19th pantomime in Bradford and while some might question a man of his years playing Buttons, the command Pearce has over his audience is testament to his stagecraft, honed over the years from the clubs of the 1970s to today.

Pearce’s stage-filling magnetism is such that the cast around have to work very hard to keep up and this year is not a vintage one.

Coleen Nolan draws on her stage experience to ensure her Fairy Godmother leaves a strong impression but Graham Hoadly and Jack Land Noble as the amusingly-monikered Ugly Sisters Hernia and Verruca feel like unnecessary appendages. Sam Barrett’s Prince Charming barely makes an impression.

This production’s strengths come from local jokes which are actually funny and aren’t just insert-name-here generic one-liners, and from the performance of Sarah Goggin as Cinderella, her voice rising above those around her in the original compositions which give the pop songs a run for their money. Everything else rests squarely on the shoulders of Pearce – he’s more than capable of carrying it though.

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The inestimable Billy Pearce is on top form in Bradford