10 December 2015 to 3 January 2016
Reviewed by Dotty Winters
For millions of Brits, an annual trip to the pantomime is as much a part of Christmas as Eggnog and sprouts. I was thrilled to be asked to review Cinderella at the Epstein in Liverpool – it was a real treat to get to go and see a different pantomime from our usual haunts.
Like many pantomimes this production is deeply rooted in the community it plays to. Even the theatre is named after a Liverpool hero. Formerly the Crane’s Music Hall and then the Neptune Theatre, The Epstein theatre has been brilliantly refurbished, and is an impressively traditional setting for any production. It’s centrally located and well served for public transport, parking and pre/post show drinks or food.
Celebrity sparkle has been added with Calum Best in the role of Prince Charming, and local Mersey beat legend Beryl Marsden as the Fairy Godmother. The Liverpool-ness of this production was further enhanced by the presence of a number of a local celebrities in the audience. Beryl Marsden, as you might expect, was at her most comfortable when she was allowed to sing, demonstrating that she hasn’t lost her powerful voice. Calum Best also played to his strengths, by looking pretty and rarely wearing a shirt. Best’s script and ad-libs were wonderfully self-aware, referencing his own reputation and threatening baddies with having to listen to him sing again.
This is traditional Christmas panto done well, including some super-cheesy puns, some risqué jokes and some lovely ad libs in response to the lively audience. The performance was carried by very strong vocal performances from Buttons, Dandini and Cinderella as well as some wonderful comic riffing from the ugly sisters. A special mention for the ugly-sister costumes, which consistently raised laughs. Oooh and lest I forget, this panto also features live ponies, on stage, in a magical moment which produced a huge gasp of delight from the crowd.
This production wasn’t as slick, or as high tech, as those which are produced by the large national production companies, but what it lacked in sheen in more than made up for in atmosphere and charm.
We left feeling more Christmassy than Michael Buble’s baubles. I’d highly recommend this show for Liverpool locals – it’s a Liverpool institution for a reason.
Tickets cost from £17 to £19 (booking fees may apply).
Cinderella is at the Epstein Theatre in Liverpool until 3 January 2016. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 888 4411.
The Epstein Theatre, Hanover House, 85 Hanover Street, Liverpool, L1 3DZ | 0844 888 4411