WHEN James ‘Arg’ Argent agreed to play Dandini in Cinderella, he didn’t expect to be smelling an ugly sister’s dirty drawers.
But that was what happened to The Only Way is Essex star at the Kings Theatre last night as he tried to wedge the glass slipper onto her clown-like foot.
After pulling off her tights for more foot room – which unspooled metres of fabric, ending in a pair of spotty bloomers – Arg went in for a sniff, much to the crowd’s amusement.
This moment of improvised humour with Jack Edwards, who played the ugly sister Rita opposite Phil Randall’s deadpan Cheryl, was one of many throughout the night which had parents and children laughing.
All the time-honoured panto sketches punctuated the main story of Cinders going to the ball in her magical coach, which was drawn by real miniature ponies.
A runaway gorilla managed to get past Prince Charming’s security and infiltrate the palace, prompting shouts of ‘he’s behind you’ from the audience as one by one the cast were scared offstage.
And The Twelve Days of Christmas was given a revamp, with Buttons (played by Matt Dallen) swinging five loo rolls on a rope – which broke, flinging toilet paper into the crowd. Dallen worked the crowd into fits of laughter during this segment, which climaxed when he accidentally slipped up.
Arg proved his singing abilities in a performance his friend Joey Essex would likely describe as ‘reem’, and Anita Harris, who shared top billing, was wickedly good as the Wicked Stepmother.
She belted out a selection of songs, from her signature hit Just Loving You to an unexpected rendition of Michael Jackson’s Bad.
The time may have been frozen at 11.35pm on the giant onstage clock – an odd choice – but time flies when you’re having fun, and this crowd certainly was.
What the audience thought
The panto season brings big crowds to the Kings, and people came from near and far to see Cinderella.
Jackie Wood and Maria Wakeford travelled from Petworth in West Sussex.
‘It was so brilliant. We come every year,’ says Jackie, 60.
Maria, 52, loved The Twelve Days of Christmas sketch.
‘We always come on press night because the cast do little things to mix it up and have a laugh,’ she said.
Carla Pendleton, 42, from Southsea, brought her children to see the show. ‘I liked the singing – there were recent songs you could clap along to,’ she said.
Her son Finn, seven, said: ‘I liked it when the witch made the lightning appear.’
The ugly sisters Rita and Cheryl came into the audience for a selfie, and David Barnes from Denmead was the butt of their joke.
‘He’s been combing his hair all day and left home without it,’ Rita quipped as she stroked his head.
David, 57, said afterwards: ‘It’s all good fun. I told her I’d polished my head especially.’