REVIEW: Cinderella, Gala Theatre, Durham, Until January 3

Hazel Pude as Cinderella and James Hedley as Prince Charming.
Hazel Pude as Cinderella and James Hedley as Prince Charming.

Durham's festive panto certainly cast a spell over its audience tonight.

Cinderella provided a magical night of festive fun.

This panto may not have the big budget that others have, but it didn't matter one bit. The traditional show was pure panto heaven.

The fairytale is one of the most well-know stories ever told and as we were invited to hear the tale by Fairy Godmother (Sally Collett) we knew immediately we were in for an unforgettable evening.

With big dance routines, catchy tunes and silly capers, the show was a non-stop feast of entertainment.

Hazel Pude took on the title role tremendously. She was sugary-sweet and an instant hit with little girls in the audience who waved at her enthusiastically, desperate for her to look their way. Her opening number, a reworking of Miley Cyrus' Breakout quickly got toes tapping and showed off her gorgeous singing voice.

Paul Dunn as Sweaty, Neil Armstrong as Dan Meanie and John Carter as Betty.

Paul Dunn as Sweaty, Neil Armstrong as Dan Meanie and John Carter as Betty.

Ugly Sisters Sweaty (Paul Dunn) and Betty (John Carter) were absolutely hilarious. Their cruel taunts at poor Cinderella got the audience so rattled that they couldn't wait to scream 'no' at the top of their lungs when the unsightly siblings demanded to be told they were adorable. Their side-splitting antics and musical numbers, like Uptown Funk, really rose the roof, and when their wigs fell off during the messy scene I could barely contain myself.

James Hedley was suitably dashing as Prince Charming. While his pint-sized stature may have been the butt of many jokes throughout the show, there's no denying that his talent is huge. His pitch-perfect rendition of Ed Sheeran's Thinking Out Loud had the ladies swooning and when he busted out an electric guitar to accompany himself to Johnny B. Goode the party really got started.

Hedley and Pude's duet of A Thousand Years was simply stunning.

Paul Hartley was instantly lovable as Cinderella's lovesick best mate Buttons. His silly antics were a hit with the kids. Neil Armstrong, who co-directed the show with Hartley, was wonderfully wicked as the dastardly Dan Meanie, the Prince's uncle who was set on foiling his plans to find a wife and become king. The crowd - aside from one little boy who seemed to be a devout follower of the bad guy - loved to boo him.

Cinderella at the Gala Theatre, Durham.

Cinderella at the Gala Theatre, Durham.

The costumes and set were fantastic and the magical transformation of Cinderella's raggy clothes into a beautiful ball gown had everyone oohing and ahhing. But nothing made the crowd say 'ahh' more than the two tiny adorable ponies that were recruited to pull Cinderella's carriage to the ball.

The young cast members were a big part in the overall sweetness of the show and did a fantastic job.

The show really got the audience involved, from flicking whipped cream at them to turning the hose on them, and running through the aisles during the big chase scene. It was a truly spectacular evening for all the family.

Cinderella runs at the Gala until January 3. Click here to book tickets.

Sally Collett as Fairy Godmother and Hazel Pude as Cinderella.

Sally Collett as Fairy Godmother and Hazel Pude as Cinderella.

Twitter: @vickinewmanjp

Paul Hartley as Buttons and Hazel Pude as Cinderella.

Paul Hartley as Buttons and Hazel Pude as Cinderella.

Paul Dunn as Sweaty, Hazel Pude as Cinderella and John Carter as Betty.

Paul Dunn as Sweaty, Hazel Pude as Cinderella and John Carter as Betty.