Theatre review: Cinderella at Royal & Derngate

Cinderella cast at Derngate, Northampton
Cinderella cast at Derngate, Northampton

This town has one of the very best theatres in the country and once again it’s playing host to surely one of the most enjoyable pantos on show
anywhere in the UK this Christmas.

Cinderella, which began its run at Royal & Derngate at the weekend, ticks all the boxes when it comes to the fundamentals of any good panto...entertaining songs, colourful sets, stunning costumes and, most of all, bags of humour.

This year’s show features a genuine A-list celebrity, the stunning fairy godmother and queen of man-eating self-deprecation, Denise Welch, but even she – wonderful as she is – is outshone by another whirlwind performance by arguably the king of panto, Bobby Davro.

Seeing him in Aladdin last year was a treat and R&D was savvy enough to get him signed up again for this year, playing Buttons, and letting him write a script that’s both fizzing with jokes, edgy double entendres and still leaving room for some (very funny) improvised humour.

Spotting a gaggle of pensioners, he cheekily suggests “just goes to show what a mild winter we’ve had” or when a gag doesn’t quite get the laugh he wants from one audience member, he mutters back: “I don’t have to do this love, I’m a really good plumber”. There’s a brilliant gag involving a box of sweets, heaps of priceless one-liners, top impersonations and the odd moment when you sense he’s struggling to keep a lid on his own giggles: like confronting Ms Welch dressed as an old lady in the woods.

Crucially, the cast really gel and look like they’re having a great time. Special mention to the wonderful, luminous and grotesque ugly sisters (Andy Brady and Darren Southworth) and the excellent talents of the Mayhew School of Dancing in Northampton.

All in all, I couldn’t recommend this enough. If R&D has any sense, they’ll be signing up Mr Davro – and that kangaroo of course – again for next year. And the one after that…

Cinderella runs until Sunday, January 6. Tickets can be booked on Northampton 624811 or online at www.royalandderngate.co.uk