There is something slightly different about this year’s pantomime at The Bristol Hippodrome. It just all seemed so much cleaner – not the jokes, some of those Eric Potts’ one-liners are very near the mark – no. Cleaner as in clearer, less fussy, easier, more honest, better delivered.
Cinderella‘s star cast of choice is Louie Spence as Dandini, Suzanne Shaw as Cinders and the irrepressible Andy Ford as Buttons. They are backed up by a strong cast of campery, old school acting and dancers.
I have never seen Louie Spence in anything at all and I’m not the right age to have taken any notice of Hear’Say, so, apart from Andy Ford, who has delighted my family for the past five Hipp pantos, I had no preconceptions of what to expect from the cast. I can say with utmost sincerity that Louie Spence is perfect in his role! He is probably the campest creature I have ever seen on stage – embarrassingly (but I’ll share it with you just the same), my daughter says, “Look at the boy-girl thingy. He’s so funny!” She laughs every time he prances, spins, splits, shimmies and spits. We all do and he really does get the best jokes. Or maybe it’s his delivery? Excellent choreography here by Phillip Joel, fabulously executed.
Suzanne Shaw has good voice, a winning way (not wet at all) and is supported refreshingly well by Andrew Derbyshire, our Prince Charming. And this is the point of Cinderella: every other year the stronger members of the cast seem to have carried the less experienced actors. None of that this season – every single actor up there is alive and tuned in. The ugly sisters, Tulisa and Miley, have the most tremendous costumes and oodles of pantos past under their belts, it would seem. Graham Hoadly, the fat sister, has a brilliant deep voice that cracks me up every time he uses it. And Paul Burnham, the gangly one, is perfectly unattractive and horrid.
Andy Ford is now as much of a mainstay of the Bristol panto as the fake snow that falls from the building upon leaving. We adore him: he can do no wrong in our eyes. And such is the overt mincing and flower of Louie Spence in his ever-so sparkly costumes that Ford jokes, “I look pretty butch this year, dun I?”
Yep, the costumes are ace, Cinderella’s transformation that allows her to go the ball convincing for the little ones and the set glimmers. Eric Pott’s works his magic again with the script, although I feel a little uncomfortable laughing at some of the jokes, worrying if I’m being just a tad homophobic or maybe even slightly xenophobic, but laugh I do. I know that I’m not yelling out as much as is usual; sometimes I come away with a sore throat. I can’t put my finger on why that might be. And a few more local references might not go a miss, or maybe that’s because they didn’t take the piss out of Weston-super-Mare this year?
But we all agreed that Cinderella is the best Bristol Hippodrome pantomime we have ever seen. And that’s saying something!
Cinderella is on at the Bristol Hippodrome until 5th January 2014
– Review by Becky Condron