It’s hard to bring something fresh to Cinderella. But Rhiannon Hannon’s confidently mounted production adds some novel touches to a familiar tale without skimping on the traditional story beats or shortchanging the little ones seeing it on stage for the first time.
It’s also a bold move to have Cinders (a refreshingly down-to-earth Georgie Ashford) mourning the loss of her mother and suggest that Samantha Palin’s winningly played fairy godmother is actually her ghost/guardian angel. But Daniel O’Brien’s script manages to interweave such grown-up emotional moments – maximised by unusual song choices such as Ed Sheeran’s touching Supermarket Flowers and a cast full of strong voices – with the usual panto antics to produce a surprisingly multi-layered piece of family entertainment.
There are a few too many bad jokes – even by the standards of panto – but the obligatory topical references to Trump and flossing are sparingly deployed. Reimagining the wicked stepmother as a villainous Russian feels like a cultural throwback, but Brandi Himmelreich gets considerable comic mileage out of a potentially cartoonish role. She combines to great effect with Chris Chilton and Chris Hannon, who manage to make their ugly sisters appalling yet strangely likeable, with Hannon particularly adept at ad-libbing and poking gentle fun at the local crowd.