"Heart warming, inspirational Christmas Tale"
by Sascha Cooper for remotegoat on 12/12/18

Cinderella was the belle of Eastbourne's ball as the Devonshire Theatre came alive with magic made by this year's pantomime. The fact that this year seemed to be getting back to traditional roots with two women playing the male roles, showed that after a long time of pantomimes losing their touch, going back to basics brought back the spirit of true Christmas traditions of fun, sparkle and laughter.

The cast as always was extremely strong and knew how to keep things fresh on and off script. Hilary O'Neal entertained everyone as the Fairy Godmother, whose magic was not quite right until Cinderella was found. Her brilliant comic timing and celebrity impersonations gave a lovely twist to a traditional character who is normally depicted as kindly and light. This gave her more of an emotional journey, as well as an additional edge to the role.

Danielle Haywood was next as Dandini. This was her second professional pantomime, but looking at her one would believe she had been doing this for years. She gave the exact amount of arrogance and flare needed for the part and carried herself well when bantering with the rest of the cast.

Baron Hardup was played by the wonderful Graham James who was given a twist in the sense that he was always looking for money to pay his rent even though he was a baron. Again it was lovely to see a new slant on this well loved character as he plotted and schemed to marry one of his step daughters off for cash! Plus his interaction with Buttons trying to get him to part with his wages was a huge highlight to the show.

Katherine Glover played the elegant Prince Charming. She was paired perfectly with Dandini both acting and physical wise. Normally when an identity swap takes place, it is clear that none of the actors are alike. In this instance, the two women were so similar that it made the switch seamless. On top of that, she gave an heroic flare to Charming which gave an extra sparkle to the relationship with Cinderella as the show progressed.

Tucker the panto's favourite comic was back as Buttons in what is now his seventh pantomime! Unlike last year, he was given more scope to explore his comedic routes and despite some very evident corpsing, he brought the character to life and really showcased his strong talent. I will never forget the plumbing scene in a hurry!

Laura Baldwin made the perfect Cinderella. She was pretty, sassy and gentle. She really made the character fully rounded and allowed herself to be constantly in the present moment in every scene. It is difficult in a pantomime sometimes to keep focus, but by letting herself laugh at appropriate moments, it enabled her to get back on track seamlessly. She was a pleasure to watch.

The real comedy highlights were Scott St Martin and Martyn Knight as the Ugly Stepsisters. They brought a new element to slapstick and Dame work in the sense of timing, acid tongues and sheer silliness. They made sure all aspects were covered as they tried to bag a man - even their rendition of 'Single Ladies' was hilarious!

But it's not just the cast that is strong, the scenery, lighting and a carriage with a difference is what brought all these elements together to make an extremely special show. Cinderella is not to be missed.

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