I always say that St Helen’s Theatre Royal’s pantos are steps above the rest and this Easter’s eggcellent offering, Cinderella starring Lee-Latchford Evans -, is everything it’s cracked up to be.
My family and I are big fans of the theatre which is a real gem and definitely worth the 30 -minute drive from Liverpool because you’re guaranteed a value for money, fun night out for all the family.
My little princess was delighted to learn that the panto producers, Regal Entertainments, would be staging her absolutely favourite fairytale this Easter.
Totally eggcited (sorry!!), she donned her full Cinderella outfit including glass (ok plastic) slippers for the occasion. Meanwhile, my son couldn’t wait to see his favourite funnyman, Lewis Devine as Buttons.
And he didn’t disappoint. After causing chaos and mayhem aplenty at Christmas as Muddles, the hilarious Lewis Devine made a welcome return to the Theatre Royal stage as Buttons, stealing the show with his fart jokes and catchphrase “I say Butt – you say tons” – which cracked my son up every time (bum jokes are always a winner!)
Poor Buttons is in love with his best friend Cinderella, but she’s dreaming of a handsome prince to come and rescue her from her lonely life as skivvy to her hideous Ugly Sisters played by the terrible twosome Kendal and Kylie – played by the dastardly Mark Newell and St Helens’ resident dame Si Foster.
The formidable duo really are an assault on the senses with their crazy day-glo costumes (take sunglasses) and endless barrage of local jokes and innuendos which are near enough to the knuckle to make the grown ups chuckle but fly straight over little ones’ heads.
Cinderella, played by the super sweet Georgina Parkinson, makes a trip to the forest to collect firewood where she meets the handsome Prince Charming and his valet Dandini.
Lee Latchford-Evans from pop phenomenon Steps really cuts a dash as Prince Charming and I found him to be really endearing. But I was blown away by Dandini’s vocals.
Dandini is played by the ultra-talented Andrew Geater whose impressive vocal talents have seen him perform all over the world including as member of the world-renowned group The 12 Tenors.
When Cinderella dashes off, the Prince is determined to track her down and arranges a grand ball to which he invites every lady in the land. But Cinders’ cruel step-sisters forbid her to attend by making her rip her ticket up.
Cue the dazzling Fairy Godmother played by Samantha Palin who boasts an incredible voice which brings a real sprinkling of magic to the show.
Uttering those legendary words “you shall go to the ball,” she wave her wand and turns Cinders’ rags into a beautiful ballgown complete with glass slippers.
But the bit which made my youngsters well and truly gasp was when she turned a pumpkin into a sparkling fairy-tale carriage pulled by real-life Shetland ponies!
Cinderella’s dream comes true when she is reunited with the Prince at the ball and gets to dance with him all night until the clock strikes midnight and she makes a mad dash for it before she turns to rags – leaving behind her glass slipper.
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you the ending – let’s just say, the shoe fitted and Cinders and Princeypoos live happily ever after.
This is a real feel-good, old fashioned, family panto with all the ingredients for a step-tacular show with colourful scenery, eye-catching costumes, superb singing and dancing, audience participation and Steps’ hits galore.
Plus there’s a modern 21st century twist – I’ve never seen Alexa being used on stage before!
Highlights for us included the hunt scene with the super cute puppies, the dazzling ballroom scene and the abundance of Steps’ hits.
But of course, like with all good pantos, a lot of the laughs come from the mishaps – in this case, Trevor the Shetland pony trying to munch on the microphone, the Ugly Sister’s wig falling off and Buttons running through the audience being attacked by a mini audience member dressed as Spiderman!!
So, for an egg-stra special Easter, treat your family to a night at this wonderful panto – it would be a “Tragedy” to miss it!
Cinderella runs until Sunday, 15 April. Tickets from £13. For more information, please visit: www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com