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Where’s my sense of humour: it’s behind you! (pantomime review, Cinderella, Wolverhampton Grand)

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The auspices for the evening were not good.

We were getting ready to go out and do our bit for the Great Panto Review for www.havealovelytime.com, but son (8) was intransigent in his desire not to leave the house – unless he could take his DS.

“It’ll be boring. You’re just saying it’ll be funny,” he whined.

“Cinderella is FOR GIRLS.”

I relented, the DS was shoved into my bag.

But guess what happened? Within the first three minutes of the curtain rising at the Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, he was on the edge of his seat. Within five, he was smiling from ear to ear.

Ten minutes in and he was rolling in his seat.

His older sister – who harbours dreams of being an actor – was similarly struck.

Yes: they laughed and laughed and laughed.

Janette Krankie and Ben Stock: Buttons and Ugly Sister. Photo, Alan Wood

Panto is a British tradition: old fashioned entertainment with plenty of innuendo for the adults and toilet humour for the younger people in the audience.

Without doubt, the star of the show was Janette Krankie, who played Buttons.

A veteran comedian of the stage, she is a star ad libber and even when corpsing was able to come up with some show stopping remarks.

The children were screeching when Buttons sang his song He’s Always Picking On Me, thanks to the liberal use of face pulling, eye-crossing and gesticulations.

(At this point, I’d like to point out I have never been a fan of the Krankies and always found the little boy routine unnerving.)

Stefan Dennis – who played Paul Robinson in Neighbours – was the evil Dandini, a facially-twisted baddie with designs on being King, while Tamworth’s 2007 X-Factor semi-finalist Niki Evans played the Black Country Fairy Godmother with considerable aplomb.

Stefan Dennis as the dastardly Dandini. Photo, Alan Wood

Cinders was the sweet Danielle York – a charming young woman with a sweet voice who was dwarfed by the giant Nic Greenshields, Prince Charming.

But, of course, humour is the name of the game, rendering the actual story fairly redundant. We were bombarded with jokes and japes, thanks not only to Buttons and her uncanny impersonation of SuBo and Ozzy Osbourne, but the superlative Ugly Sisters Trinny and Susannah, played by Ben Stock and Nathan Kiley, whose costumes became more outrageous as each scene passed.

As tradition dictates, we had the audience participation (“Oh no, it isn’t!”, “Behind you!”, “No, don’t go there!” etc), the “fandabbydozy” from the Krankies, the local jokes (Why is Telford like Mars? It has no atmosphere. *Badum tish*) and topical references (Jedward).

Oh – and apparently some commoner girl ends up marrying a prince. Who’d have believed that?

Fact box

Jayne Howarth and children were guests of Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, Lichfield Street, Wolverhampton. 01902 429212.

Cinderella runs until Sunday, January 31, 2010. Tickets cost between £11.50-£23.50.

If you have enjoyed this post, please consider donating to our Great Panto Review charity fundraising initiative. You can do so here.

The idea is to raise money for a charity called NACCPO, which helps provide respite and support for families with children with cancer.


Written by CommonPeople

December 19, 2009 at 6:09 am

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