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Cinderella review at Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury – ‘lively, lovely and lavishly designed’

Cara Dudgeon in Cinderella at Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury. Photo: Pamela Raith

Finding the tricky balance between spectacle and sincerity, the Marlowe Theatre’s Cinderella is a finely-tuned fairytale.

Written and directed by Paul Hendy, it’s unswervingly traditional, loaded with all the usual skits and catchphrases you’d expect, but acknowledging contemporary sensibilities with a few jokey tweaks. Early on, the script takes time to articulate the message that Cinders, being a modern woman, doesn’t need anyone to look after her after all.

In the title role, Cara Dudgeon is all wholesome enthusiasm and cheerful determination, but belts out her songs with a tremendous, powerful voice. Heading a solid ensemble, experienced dames Lloyd Hollett and Ben Roddy work the crowd skilfully as lying, bullying stepsisters Melania and Donaldina. Sally Lindsay makes a likeably flawed, low-key drunk Fairy, while BAFTA nominated children’s entertainer Phil Gallagher brings heart and a rare bittersweet note to his role as friend-zoned footman Buttons.

Lush sets by Michelle Marden present pleasant picture book backdrops doused in glitter, with seamless changes transforming the space at impressive speed. A few well judged gimmicks add to the charm, with live ponies, a soap sud snowfall, and an intervention from a gigantic hand of god all providing fleeting but memorable moments.

https://www.thestage.co.uk/pantomime/

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Verdict
Lively, lovely, and lavishly designed panto that embraces tradition but never feels dated
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