Despite its rather unique format, pantomimes are similar to other forms of theatrical entertainment because their success hinges on the quality of the lead performer.
In the case of Cinderella at Milton Keynes Theatre, that performer is Louie Spence, famous for his ultra camp appearances on Sky 1’s Pineapple Dance Studios.
The 43-year-old plays the part of Prince Charming’s servant Dandini, and fills his early appearances on stage with his trademark elaborate dance moves.
But, after exhausting his repertoire of energetic gyrations, Spence does not have much else to add to the entertainment.
He does not have natural comedy timing and cannot sing so Deniece Pearson, former member of 80s pop group Five Star, is used to provide the vocals for a number of songs throughout the show.
As Spence is known for his over-the-top camp behaviour, the comedy material in the first half of the show consisted of line after line of gay innuendo which seemed old-fashioned, lazy and depressingly predictable.
To be fair, one of the best parts of the production is comedy pianist Kev Orlan who plays the part of Buttons.
He is the only character in the production who looks comfortable engaging with the audience and provides one-liners which make both the adults and children laugh.
The set is also extremely well designed with a particular highlight being the scene where Cinderella’s carriage is brought on to stage by two Shetland ponies.
But the overall feel of the production was that it did not have enough laugh out loud comedy moments or enough celebrities able to provide any topical humour.
No one goes to watch a pantomime looking for an exciting plot or amazing acting performance.
But this year’s production at Milton Keynes was full of scenes which I had seen performed with more enthusiasm and hilarity in previous years.