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Cinderella review at Orchard Theatre, Dartford – ‘sparky choreography’

Louie Spence and Michelle Collins in Cinderella at Orchard Theatre, Dartford. Photo: Qdos Louie Spence and Michelle Collins in Cinderella at Orchard Theatre, Dartford. Photo: Qdos
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The innate glitziness of the Orchard Theatre – with its strips of multicoloured, flashing neon lights around the auditorium – makes it ideal for panto.

This Qdos show has the expected high production values. The Fairy Godmother (an entertainingly coarse-voiced Suzie Chard) flies in on a crescent moon. There are real Shetland ponies to pull Cinderella’s coach, lots of dramatic lighting and some sparky choreography.

The cast is strong, with the glitter-clad, camper-than-camp Louie Spence hamming it up as Dandini and Michelle Collins’ stepmother Demonica more than living up to her name.

But the show doesn’t come together as well as it might. It feels a bit disparate, in part because there are too many variety acts on the bill. These include Phil Butler’s less-than-spectacular magic and juggling – although he plays Buttons well enough, with a performance of requisite chirpy pathos – and an overlong ballet sequence in which Spence and Butler do silly, but clever, things with a pink balloon. It’s funny in its way but out of place here.

Simon Jessop and Charles Brunton are mildly disappointing as the Ugly Sisters. They wear suitably outrageous frocks and do awful things to Cinderella but they feel marginal. Jayne Wisener’s Cinders, however, proves herself a powerful singer.

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Verdict
Glitzy pantomime with high production values and strong performances
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