Theatre, Panto
4 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

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The hippest panto team in town deliver the goods again.

Forget death and taxes, at the moment the only certainty in life is that ’Uptown Funk’ will be in every single panto in town. But the Lyric Hammersmith probably wins the award for getting it in earliest, offering a big song and dance number within about three minutes of the curtain going up.

Far from peaking too early, however, playwright Tom Wells’s take on ‘Cinderella’ grows as it goes while rising superstar director Ellen McDougall brings vim and ingenuity to each scene.

Hardly anyone is able to stay vertical on the slippery stage after a particularly frenzied slop scene, and Cinders’s transformation is a slick moment of magic as layers of twinkling fairy lights illuminate Oliver Townsend’s clockwork-inspired set.

But where others only do brashness, Wells and McDougall find tenderness too: so Cinders and Prince Charming meet over a sweet rendition of James Bay’s ‘Hold Back The River’. For the adults, Wells’ sscript is rammed with innuendos. For the kids there are fart jokes and dancing crabs.

His eyes like a rabbit in headlights, Samuel Buttery doesn’t quite have the confidence Buttons needs to whip the audience into a call-and-response frenzy, but he’s got a stonking set of lungs on him (he was on series one of ‘The Voice’) and he’s lobbing Maoam by the fistful, so who’s to complain?

And Buttery’s supported by a strong cast, particularly Sara Crowe as Cinderella’s Evil Stepmother Madame Woo. Hunched over herself and with a voice like Bernadette Peters’s evil twin, she has couldn’t-care-less comic villainy down to a tee. She revels in each evil line, and commands colossal boos from the willing audience.

As the wedding ends and the dancing starts, ‘Cinderella’ is proof if proof were needed that no one throws a party quite like the Lyric Hammersmith.

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By: Tim Bano



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