Cinderella – Review – Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield
Cinderella – Review
Lawrence Batley Theatre, December 2016
by Anel Blazevic
From the outside pantomime might seem like a lightweight bit of seasonal frivolity, but it is big business. Indeed, it is the lifeblood of many theatres up and down the country. Packed houses are guaranteed and the trickle-down effect on the wider theatre scene, front and back stage, is close to essential.
With that in mind, Huddersfield’s Lawrence Batley Theatre has upgraded its annual shindig from a purely amateur offering to its first ever professional pantomime – and my, how it shows! In fact, there’s thesp royalty in tow – the director is Joyce Branagh, younger sister to the esteemed Kenneth.
Even so, I take my seat slightly hesitantly. The last time I went to a panto the ‘jokes’ were the wrong side of bad taste, the singing was awful and one of the backdrops fell on to the front row. So the extent of my hopes is that my young daughter enjoys it and I get out alive.
“The Ugly Sisters rightly steal the show”
But what a show! What a treat! What a laugh we have together. My daughter booing the ugly sisters, me chortling at the endless gags about Dewsbury. Yes, poor old Dewsbury does cop it big time in this Cinderella – cue playful booing from all those from Dewsbury, of course.
Nisa Cole (Waterloo Road) takes the lead with aplomb, her smile a constant warm glow, her presence heartwarming. Her Prince Charming (‘The Prince of Dewsbury’) is a perfect match. Adam Barlow is tall and handsome and takes on the role with the dashing charm it requires.
But, of course, it’s the Ugly Sisters who rightly steal the show. With dresses from a fairy-tale and make-up from Halloween, Kylie Hardup (Richard Hand) and Miley Hardup (Michael Hugo) snarl and scratch their way through the show and leave most people in stitches. Although the sisters are run close by Gareth Cassidy as Buttons, who has the audience in the palm of his hands.
“Extravagant, smart and edgy”
A word too for a barnstorming turn from Natasha Magigi, who manages to cram the roles of both Baroness Hardup and The Fairy Godmother in – a feat I didn’t actually recognise until the curtain call.
The backdrops are vibrant (and thankfully stay on the stage), the costumes are extravagant and the script is surprisingly smart and edgy. There’s just the right balance between adult-pleasing nudge-nudge content and silly fun stuff for the kids.
As I leave I’m really not sure who has enjoyed themselves more – me or my daughter. But no matter. This brilliant show will ensure that we return next year to see Jack scale his giant beanstalk. What a delight!
images: Andrew Billington Photography