REVIEW: Cinderella Lowther Pavilion, Lytham

Lowther Pavilion photo call for their annual Christmas pantomime of Cinderella. L-r Annabelle Davis as Fairy Superior, Jack Wealthall as Dandini, Emma Wilson as Cinderella and Ugly Sisters James Austin-Harvey who plays Munta and Oliver Graham who plays Minga. Picture by Paul Heyes, Thursday October 29, 2015.
Lowther Pavilion photo call for their annual Christmas pantomime of Cinderella. L-r Annabelle Davis as Fairy Superior, Jack Wealthall as Dandini, Emma Wilson as Cinderella and Ugly Sisters James Austin-Harvey who plays Munta and Oliver Graham who plays Minga. Picture by Paul Heyes, Thursday October 29, 2015.
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Cinderella, this year’s Christmas show at the Lowther is an impressively-crafted production.

Polka Dot Pantomimes, returning to Lytham for a second year and putting on pantos at eight other intimate theatres, know just what ingredients are required and here the hard-working cast of eight make the very most of every opportunity.

Luke Glover, as a loose-limbed and immediately likeable Buttons, leads the way, engaging an excited young audience easily and deftly at the opening performance.

The excellent sound, lighting and an uncluttered stage leave plenty of room for James Austin Harvey and Oliver Graham as the Ugly Sisters, sporting a series of suitably grotesque outfits, to clown and quip flamboyantly. They deal especially well in delivering the more adult jokes to their youthful listeners.

Emma Wilson is a very posh Cinderella, straight from the Kate Middleton set, it seems. She speaks, moves and sings attractively and is an ideal foil to the hopefully super smooth Prince Charming, nicely played by Tayler Davis.

The script is mostly pacy and lively, with, sadly, one excellent joke about the plight of Blackpool Football Club and plenty of 2015 references to Specsavers, Ant, Dec, celebrities in the jungle, Primark and Simon Cowell.

Three teams of local dancers are supporting the principals during the run and here the Prince’s Paupers were first-class. The recorded music was strongest in the disco and rapping rhythms and all the principals put over their numbers with conviction.

As often in pantos the momentum was slightly slowed by the rhyming couplets of the Fairy Godmother – not one, but two in this production. Annabel Davis and Rebecca Taylor Grayson did their utmost in markedly contrasting accents. Blackpool- born Jack Wealthall too may feel that the script for a rather muted Dandini did not showcase the abilities we saw last year.

The spectacular scenes were eye-catching – including live Shetland ponies – and director James Austin Harvey ensured the audience was always attentive, often participating, but not to the exclusion of quieter interludes which grabbed the attention too.

JULIAN WILDE