A slightly confused Linda Gray stars in the New Wimbledon's latest seasonal extravaganza.
Two Texan titans are going head-to-head in west London this panto season. In Richmond, there’s borough adoptee Jerry Hall playing the wicked stepmother in ‘Sleeping Beauty’. And over in Wimbledon’s ‘Cinderella’ is Linda Gray, erstwhile star of ‘Dallas’, as the sparkly Fairy Godmother.
But Gray (actually from California), who played Sue Ellen in the classic TV series, looks like she’s been flown in from the States just days before previews start. She has a winning smile and delivers a couple of laughs well, but she is wooden and hesitant with her lines: far from a heavyweight contender.
Still, if you’re looking for relentless cheese, frills, noise and glitter, this lavish, commercialised ‘Cinderella’ is for you. Director Ian Talbot squeezes a pacy, funny show out of a flimsy script, making it all about the set-pieces. Some of the best bits are the well-chosen songs. We get spunky renditions of ‘Happy’ (of course), ‘Blurred Lines’, ‘All of Me’ and – at the show’s startlingly good climax – a brilliant version of ‘Let It Go’ (cue mass audience singalong) delivered by the panto’s strong young star Amy Lennox as Cinders.
Comedian Tim Vine’s joke-firing Buttons, who delivers a non-stop stream of nicely timed gags, is a highlight. Wayne Sleep as Prince Charming’s assistant Dandini is a camp pirouetting bundle of fun – willing and very able to take the piss out of himself. Matthew Kelly and his son Matthew Rixon give it their all as the towering ugly sisters – with wigs and heels they’re about three times the height of the diminutive Sleep – but they get hardly any stage time and are pretty forgettable.
As well as the plentiful falling snow and glitter, there’s also a surprise with some cute, real Shetland ponies (who eye the hordes of screaming children stoically) and an entirely out of context, but quite fun, 3D film section.
This ‘Cinderella’ is an uneven mix: big-budget, epic, glitzy production values sit alongside an emphasis on the humble joke. It’s not perfect, but it’s a high-octane, candy-coated whirlwind of a night out.
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