BWW Reviews: CINDERELLA, Wolverhampton Grand, December 12 2014
Cinderella is probably the most popular pantomime of all and QDOS have many productions of this around the country as well as other favourites. Last night I went to see Wolverhampton's version of the classic and it was as lavish and flamboyant as you would expect...and that isn't even taking into account Julian Clary's costumes!
The costumes and set are spectacular as we have all come to expect from QDOS pantomimes as they work year round to produce them. Graham J McLusky does his best to emphasise their splendour with the lighting design even more so and effectively lights those scenes whereby special effects happen, such as Cinderella's transformation and the journey to the ball featuring an animatronic horse . A few scenes in, something felt incredibly familiar and it soon dawned on me that this production is almost a carbon copy of the Birmingham Hippodrome pantomime two years ago! This did not hinder my enjoyment, however, as there are elements that I fondly remember from that production. There were of course scenes and sketches added in for the current cast members which were fresh. Andrew Lynford's direction and Richard Peakman's choreography lent itself to the material well.
As previously mentioned, Julian Clary is the headline act in Wolverhampton this year playing Dandini. He is a panto favourite for many but unfortunately I can't say he is one of mine. He is funny initially but I find his comedy very one-dimensional. The book is well written by means of there being adult jokes aplenty that go over the kids' heads but innuendo is pretty much all we get from Clary throughout which does wear thin after a while. He also talks his way through his musical numbers which I can understand on one occasion but no more than that and definitely not a Whitney Houston song! Joe Tracini is an excellent Buttons. I did not know much about him but to many he is fondly known as Dennis in Hollyoaks. He has fantastic comic timing and is a very talented triple threat. He shines during his rendition of John Legend's 'All Of Me'. The Fairy Godmother is played by previous X Factor semi-finalist Niki Evans and she too is wonderful: amazing vocals and a joy to watch. The Ugly Sisters are played competently by Ben Stock and Tony Jackson, and Will Richardson is a vocal dream as Prince Charming. Alice Baker is a sickly sweet Cinderella and impresses in the role.
Cinderella plays at Wolverhampton Grand until Sunday 18 January 2015.