Review | Cinderella at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton: 'Three words - Fab-you-lous'

Given that last year’s Mayflower panto only made it through four performances before changing Covid restrictions forced its closer, this year’s is already on to a winner.

Daniel Norford as Dandini and Craig Revel Horwood as The Wicked Stepmother. Picture by Stuart Martin/Mayflower Theatre
Daniel Norford as Dandini and Craig Revel Horwood as The Wicked Stepmother. Picture by Stuart Martin/Mayflower Theatre

Cinderella was recently voted the nation’s favourite pantomime, and it’s easy to see why – it’s a tale that has all of the classic ingredients, the beautiful princess, the dashing prince, boo-able baddies, the rib-tickling sidekick.

All of which are present and correct here tonight.

Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood returns to Southampton after playing the dame here in 2017, this time as Baroness Demonica Hardup. He gets to riff on his judging persona, while also displaying some impressive singing, and of course, he gets a big dance number. And in a further nod to the hit Saturday night show, the ugly stepsisters are named Tess and Claudia – after the show’s presenters.

Georgia Carr as Cinderella and company. Picture by Stuart Martin/Mayflower Theatre

Debbie McGee enjoys herself as The Fairy Godmother, while Richard Cadell as Buttons and his charge – Sooty, bring belly laughs aplenty.

Mayflower’s pantomimes have built a reputation for being blockbuster spectacles – and justifiably so.

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Strictly's Craig Revel Horwood and the lovely Debbie McGee star in Cinderella at...

The production values are as slick as ever, the costumes dazzling, and there is a very impressive special effect to end the first act that had our boys out of their seats.

Debbie McGee as the Fairy Godmother. Picture by Stuart Martin/Mayflower Theatre

The jokes are daft, and come thick and fast – a couple at the expense of Portsmouth, but also poking fun at Southampton.

The occasional innuendo goes over the youngsters’ head (it’s Cinderella, so there’s more than one reference to ‘balls’), but there are some very impressive routines – notably between Cadell and Revel Horwood where the former tells the story of a woeful date using snippets of dozens of songs ranging from The Archies to Take That and Engelbert Humperdinck, or Cadell trying to ruin Cinders and Charming’s first romantic moment, and the final slapstick dance routine where the leads imagine the jobs they’d have if the panto didn’t work out.

And Cadell makes his colleagues crack up on more than occasion with naughty deviations from the script.

Given Sooty’s inclusion, there’s also a couple of gasp-worthy magic tricks, and the chance for everyone to shout: ‘Izzy, whizzy, let’s get busy!’

Richard Cadell as Buttons with Sooty. Picture by Stuart Martin/Mayflower Theatre

There is also, naturally, a Strictly routine at the ball, which is fun.

Georgia Carr as Cinderella and Will Richardson as Prince Charming provide charismatic turns as the romantic leads, but are mostly there as foils to the mayhem going on around them. Top turns too from Suzie Chard and Catherine Morris as the gruesome-twosome stepsisters, and Daniel Norford as Charming’s loyal aide Dandini.

And the verdict?

As Revel Horwood himself says at one point: ‘Three words – “Fab-you-lous”.’

The company at the finale. Picture by Stuart Martin/Mayflower Theatre

Until January 2.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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