Rags to riches tale casts its spell

Craig Hollingsworth (Buttons) and Alice Rose Fletcher (Cinderella)

IT’S that time of year again – oh yes it is! (Sorry) – when we embrace the flamboyant fabulousness that is – panto season.

And for Coventry’s Cinderella, it sees the welcome return of festive favourite Iain Lauchlan who has once again written and directed the show.

This year there is a double dose of fun, with not one but two dames sharing the spotlight in the roles of the Ugly Sisters. Lauchlan and fellow Scottish actor, Greg Powrie, form the perfect madcap comic partnership as Dyspepsia and Listeria.

The princess to pauper fairytale is a familiar one as Cinderella embarks on a quest to win the heart of the dashing Prince Charming, with a little help from her best friend Buttons and the enchanting Fairy Godmother.

But with her evil Ugly Sisters determined to ruin her chances and the clock about to strike midnight, will Cinders manage to win the Prince’s love before the spell runs out?

In true pantomime style this magical rags to riches tale is brought to life with spectacular sets, quirky colourful costumes and great sing-along moments.

There’s also a mixture of original compositions and recognisable musical numbers, including a regular smattering of Ed Sheeran. (You just can’t escape him!)

Personal highlights include the closing scene of Act 1 when Cinders takes to the air in her magical carriage (yes, really!) and, well, practically every time Craig Hollinsworth is on the stage! Regular Belgrade performer Hollinsworth is a sheer delight as Buttons – always getting the laughs, but never the girl! But he’s certainly quick to win over the audience.

Along with the dames, he is largely responsible for keeping the show fizzing along throughout.

There is lots of audience participation – there is something quite satisfying about seeing grown men and women humiliated on stage! (All good-natured of course!)

Alice Rose Fletcher makes a beautiful Cinderella to Bethany Brookes’ Prince Charming.

And doing an admirable job were the Junior Chorus, made up of 27 talented local children, aged 9–16, who successfully auditioned earlier this year.

The only questionable performance is delivered by Maggie Robson, whose dual Fairy Godmother and Wicked Stepmother roles, don’t seem to resonate.

The Belgrade’s Cinderella may still have some wrinkles to be ironed out, but it’s safe to say that Lauchlan and Co. have succeeded in working their magic once again. Certainly the children come away with the broadest of smiles on their faces.

For a liberal sprinkling of Christmas sparkle head to Coventry this year.

Cinderella plays at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry until 13th January 2018.