Image © Phil Tragen Photography
Opera House, Manchester
Until Sunday 30th December 2018
It may only be a few years since Torvill and Dean memorably skated on to the Opera House stage as the Fairy Godparents in the 2015 production of Cinderella, but just three years on, ‘The Fairy Godmother of all Pantomimes‘ has returned to Manchester in a bold and energetic new production for 2018, building on ATG and the Opera House’s hugely successful partnership with Qdos Entertainment, the world’s biggest pantomime producer.
There is a great deal to admire about this year’s festive offering: strong, assured performances – particularly Ben Nickless’ comedic masterclass as Buttons – evocative designs, some very funny gags and routines, a dynamic ensemble, slick choreography, and a brilliant live band under the direction of Steve Price, though alongside the highlights there are certain aspects that prove problematic.
Connor McIntyre, Ben Nickless & Les Dennis © Phil Tragen Photography
Adult audience members can look forward to a wealth of risqué jokes and hilarious innuendos that will of course fly straight of the heads of the youngsters, yet although this Cinderella may pale in comparison to last year’s controversial John Barrowman and The Krankies led filth-fest, Dick Whittington, the production does feel just a little light on traditional, child-friendly pantomime content.
Added to that are pacing issues that see certain scenes fall flat from time to time, problems with sound levels that cause some of the weaker vocals to be drowned out by the sheer power of the music, a rather lacklustre entrance for the Fairy Godmother, and a rather bare-bones retelling of the familiar tale, lost in a wave of pop culture references.
Gareth Gates & Shannon Flynn © Phil Tragen Photography
With Coronation Street alumni Connor McIntyre and Les Dennis sharing top-billing this year, references to the show and their former characters come thick and fast, though for anyone unfamiliar with Pat Phelan’s dastardly exploits over the last few years, the excessive references will mean nothing, and there are simply too many, too often.
Yet despite the issues, Guy Unsworth’s vibrant, feel-good production – jam-packed with fun, laughter, and excitement – can be very slick and very strong when at its best.
It’s warm, it’s energetic, it brings a smile to the faces of audience members young and old, and delivers a much-needed dose of escapism from the cold and dismal British winter.
Running Time: 2 hours and 10-minutes (approx.), including one 20-minute interval.
Final Performance at the Opera House, Manchester: Sunday 30th December 2018.
For more information, and to book tickets, please Click Here.