REVIEW: Cinderella, Whickham School, Gateshead, Until December 23

Jarrow actress Karleigh Wright is starring as the Geordie Godmother in pantomime Cinderella in Gateshead.
Jarrow actress Karleigh Wright is starring as the Geordie Godmother in pantomime Cinderella in Gateshead.

It may be called Cinderella, but this show was all about the Ugly Sisters for me.

David Hopper and Daniel Mawston had me in continuous fits of giggles as Stella Artois Hardup and Bella Fernandez-Primarni Hardup, respectively.

The duo’s over-the-top gesticulations and inflated egos made for one hilarious scene after another.

Their performance of Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight), mashed up with Madonna’s Hung Up, was side-splittingly funny. I was genuinely gutted they didn’t get another song.

The show – the first professional panto from Nice Swan Theatre Company – is the classic story of Cinderella (Charlotte Casey) who is treated like a slave by her ugly step-sisters and evil step-mum Baroness Griselda (Erin Gascoigne), before falling madly in love with Prince Charming (Jacob Anderton) and of course, living happily ever after, with a little help from her Geordie Godmother (Karleigh Wright).

The panto gave the story a Geordie makeover. It was a great touch and provided plenty of jokes.

Sean Gray was brilliant as Cinderella’s best mate Buttons. He was super likeable and had everyone on his side.

Wright also made a huge impression as the Geordie Godmother. There were lots of whispers in the audience about how brilliant she was.

Anderton gave a commanding performance as Charming, but unfortunately doesn’t have much stage time.

A scene with Buttons made up of a massive misunderstanding was fantastic. Their frustrated back and forth didn’t miss a beat.

I also adored Anderton’s news interview with Look North’s Colin Briggs, who reported on the Prince’s search for his mystery woman.

There was also no duet between the Prince and Cinders, which seemed a little odd. Everyone always expects to see them fall in love over a catchy pop hit.

Bryce Laverick gave a fantastic tap-dancing performance as Dandini as he sang a revised rendition of Puttin’ on the Ritz, and little Jack Johnston was a real cutie as Stottie the cat.

The show was fun, but I felt like it was missing a few things. It could have done with a few more songs, and the ones that were used would have been very unfamiliar to the young audience members

The sing-along at the end, a re-working of the Blaydon Races, had my niece absolutely baffled, as I’m sure many other children were.

She had never heard the original song, so had no idea of the tune she was meant to be singing the displayed lyrics to.

There was no Christmas sing-along at the end, which gave the feeling of an abrupt ending to the show, and there was no messy scene, while some other filler scenes, such as kids building a snowman, seemed pointless.

The show, penned by Thomas Whalley, also could have done with being on a raised stage.

Despite tiered seating, the tall man sat in front of me meant I had to keep dodging around his head to keep up with the action taking place on the floor.

The lights shining directly in people’s eyes were also a downside. Looking around, I wasn’t the only one trying to shield my eyes from the blinding beams.

Overall, I enjoyed the show and the Ugly Sisters really made it for me.

While there are a few kinks to iron out, it was a great first attempt at a professional panto.

Cinderella runs until Wednesday, December 23. Click here to book tickets.

Twitter: @vickinewmanjp