If you’re on the look out for an old school classic panto, you can’t go too far wrong with the Byre Theatre’s likeably upbeat take on the classic tale of Cinderella this Christmas season. Director-writer Gordon Barr throws in all the usual ingredients of a classic panto (men in drag, hissable villian, audience participation, etc.) whilst bringing a fresh element to the story. This time around, the wicked stepmother (Donna Hazelton – doubling up as the Fairy Godmother and giving her all to both roles) is the strict owner of Madam Zsa Zsa Diabolique’s Dance School and Prince Charming is on the look out for a new dance partner as the ball becomes a Strictly style dance competition. This is a nicely updated element and is not too overbearing in changing the classic plot too much.
The cast are all having a blast. Lynne Jenkinson is a quirky and appealing heroine and she has great chemistry with her loyal friend Buttons (Tom Duncan), which is quite suitable as the two are married in real life. Duncan and Jenkinson met on the very same stage when they worked on Snow White in 2012, further enhancing the production’s sweetly romantic element. Meanwhile Robert Elkin and Alan Steele all but steal the show as the ugly stepsisters, providing hilarious segments with their sassy rapport with the audience. The youngsters from the Byre Youth Theatre also appear throughout the show and give performances as richly polished and professional as the main cast.
The songs throughout contain a fantastic mix of contemporary and classic show stoppers. Occasionally, the odd song feels like it could do with sharper choreography, and once too often the lighting is too dark for the musical numbers. The production itself seems a little too long as well, and could have done with some editing. However, these are minor flaws in a delightfully cheeky production that is full of romance, laughs and feel-good entertainment. A perfect family night’s out entertainment.