Joe Purdy Productions presents:
Sinderella Adult Panto
Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House
Fri 24 Jan 2020
and then on tour
This was panto show number 14 of the season for us, and we were with the loudest audience. This crowd were really up for a good time. Even over the loud pa system, the audience could be heard yelling for Buttons when someone was going to steal his present or heard laughing as the performers described what they’d do if they were not in panto. SInderella is not a quiet panto. It is not for the faint hearted. And yes, it is rude. I wouldn’t take my mother to it. But do you know what? We loved it.
As each actor appeared on stage, I realised that the bulk of the audience were familiar with them, as each one, with a couple of exceptions, has appeared on some television programme or other. By the reaction of the audience, they feel that they already know them and love them and were excited to meet them afterwards. As for me: well I don’t see that much TV do I? Having said that – they all appeared comfortable with entertaining on stage with an audience that they can hear giving them immediate feedback. Only one gave a vibe that they are not entirely sure with is going on with this “panto” format, but that vulnerability was charming as they reacted to the audience’s reaction to the script.
Stacy Layne Matthews, from season 3 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, appears first as Fairy Henny who is armed with rhyming couplets on her she is going to sort out Cinderella’s love life. She is met by another Rupaul favourite: Davina De Campo as Baroness Divina Hardon who has married Baron Hardon and is moving into Hardon Hall with her 2 ugly daughters. Davina is a wonderful performer that works the Newcastle crowd well.
Glasgow’s Julie Hutchinson Alberts plays a pretty straight Cinderella and the script lets the others around her say all of the naughty things that makes show an adult panto. Cinder’s best friend is, of course, Buttons, and producer Joe Purdy has played a blinder by recruiting the South Tyneside panto legend Davey Hopper to the role. Naturally entertaining, this lad helped tie together the various panto elements and remained comical throughout. He was clearly having fun in the more adult role but that did not stop a few yells of “Arbuthnot” from the crowd as some fans of his Customs House performances were in for this performance.
Sometimes, in Cinderella, you end up with a fairly boring Prince and side-kick. Thankfully that was not the case here. Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist Rob King seemed to fit in well into the action as he makes his theatre debut as Prince Charming. He was a part of a great double-act, playing the straight guy next to David Potts as Dandini. Potts was a vibrant character in his own right rather than a subservient extra.
The Cinderella story also relies on two ugly sisters, and this show has a right pair! Lapping up a number of opportunities to be as cruel and as crude as they can get away with are Jamie Campbell and Troy Haris as Fifi and Frieda Hardon. At least Jamie was someone that, as a theatre-goer, I was familiar with as he is the actual Jamie in Everyone’s Talking About Jamie (which will be appearing at the Theatre Royal from March 30th). These two uglies were happy to interact with the audience and Baroness Divina, trading insults and getting as many “ew”s as laughs as they were often disgusting and loving it.
The show is complete with four dancers (Ross McNally, Blake Wilson, Kris Gazey and Steph Knight) that often added to adult theme with their routines.
This is a really funny show. Even though it over ran slightly and was just under the 3 hour mark (with interval) – that was more down to the audience than anything else. It looked like a proper panto and featured people know for TV, but the jokes were definitely not for television and each one understood the nature of the three-ringed circus that is live panto. It actually stuck to the Cinderella narrative fairly closely but wasn’t afraid to point out how, for example, Cinders should keep her mouth shut at times – or what was more likely to have happened at the ball.
Review: Stephen Oliver
The tour continues around the UK: https://www.facebook.com/pg/adultpantotour and appears back in the North East at the Middlesbrough Theatre on the 6th and 9th February – tickets: https://www.middlesbroughtheatre.co.uk/shows/sinderella/.