Cinderella at the New Wimbledon Theatre
Mike Reed heads down to the New Wimbledon Theatre to check out the theatre’s return to tradition with this year’s production
One thing was missing from the Wimbledon Panto’s of recent years, and very much to its benefit. Clunky 3D scenes which have been an almost farcical distraction in the past two years, often resulting in parents scrabbling around for glasses their kids had dropped behind the seat in front, were ditched for a more traditional approach, without a doubt taking Wimbledon’s panto back to its best.
Cinderella is probably the mother of all panto stories, and this production is packed with well executed energetic choreography throughout and brilliant vocal performances across the cast, led by ex-Pussycat Doll Melody Thornton, who was superb as Cinderella in every aspect. Lesley Garrett, the fairy godmother, also performs the musical numbers with ease, receiving huge applause.
But it was the humour and delivery from a superb Pete Firman as Buttons, who returns to Wimbledon following his stint there last season, that elevated this show. His fun magical stints and improvised audience engagement had all ages laughing out loud and a loveable teddy bear scene cemented the audience’s fondness for poor old Buttons. So much so that when the audience were asked if Cinderella should marry Prince Charming one child shouted out a resounding “No”, and there was little doubt the audience really wanted Buttons to win her hand.
Samantha Womack was a lovable villain as Baroness, demonstrating her vocal talents and like many of the cast she was happy to send herself up, referencing Walford in her dialogue. Lesley Garrett got in on the act with numerous references to opera throughout, which were missed by many.
A magical flying carriage scene to take Cinders to the ball was believable to the younger members of the audience with our junior reviewer enthralled that “Cinderella flew over me and waved to me four times!” and another asking: Just how can that carriage really fly? – all the way home.
Here’s what our junior reviewers thought of this years show:
Frankie, 5: I loved it. Buttons was my favourite, he was the best and really funny especially when that bush took all his clothes. The boys dressed up as the ugly sisters were really fun too. The ice cream was awesome!
Georgia, 5: “I loved Cinderella and Buttons, but didn’t like the bad mother, she was so mean and I definitely don’t want to meet her! That talking teddy is going on my Christmas list, he was so cute!”
Ben, 10, really enjoyed the Buttons and Ugly sisters quick fire jokes section and will no doubt be adding many of them to his joke collection
Josh, 7, was a big fan of the magic tricks throughout
Ollie, 5, couldn’t stop singing and humming the songs all the way home
All three agreed that Buttons (Pete Firman) stole the show (again) and couldn’t stop trying his “One smart fella” tongue twister.
There’s still time to get your Panto fix before Christmas! Check out what’s on here.