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Theatre and Film
The cast of Cinderella
Cinderella comes to the Sunderland Empire
By Alfie Joey
BBC Radio Newcastle presenter Alfie Joey went along to see Cinderella to see what all the hype was about.
Another opening, another show…
But Sunderland Empire's Cinderella isn't just another show.
It is a barn storming romp packed with laughs, hit musical numbers and enough top stars to fill the ether.
Some of today's pantomime's can focus too much on the glitz and glamour, throwing the money at flashy sets and special effects.
Alfie Joey meets Les Dennis
In doing so they can neglect the need to entertain both mums and dads and kids simultaneously with a gag packed script and the perfect cast to pull it off.
Thankfully this show was light on the former and heavy on the latter.
Leading the way was Les Dennis bringing to the role of Buttons equal amounts of pathos and hilarity.
Andy Scott-Lee and Michelle Heaton
A seasoned pro, Les knows when to laugh at himself (some beautifully judged Family Fortunes gags) and when to make the audience sigh as one when we realise he won't get the girl.
Everything from the sensitive manner of how he deals with the children plucked from the audience to the way he drives the truly chuckle some 12 days of Christmas makes you realise you're in truly safe hands.
Cinderella and Prince Charming were played by real life couple Michelle Heaton (Liberty X) and hubby Andy Scott-Lee so the chemistry was genuine and obviously they both can sing.
Dale Meeks (ex- Emmerdale) brings up the rear as best supporting actor, making the crowd laugh with plenty of local references. The only criticism for him was that he wasn't in it more.
And as if that's not enough there's possibly the greatest showbiz trooper of all, 87 year old Mickey Rooney as Barron Hardup.
He invented the maxim "Let's put on a show right here, right now" and belts out that very line to the delight of those of us old enough to remember the amazing legacy of this Hollywood veteran.
When he said "I'd now like to sing a song by my old friend Fred Astaire" and proceeds to belt out "You Say Either, I Say Either" with the Fairy Godmother (a duet with his real life wife Jan) you have to pinch yourself because he did know Fred Astaire and Judy Garland along with many other movie greats.
The whole production is an absolute joy but particular commendation to the writer Tudor Davis. It's the best pantomime script I've ever heard.
The gags come at such a cracking pace and they are as fresh as paint with topical jibes about canoeists in Hartlepool and what to name Button's teddy bear and of course the requisite amount of great puns (Sinderland Echo, Rooney sins for Sinderland) are littered throughout.
Get a ticket now and your winter blues will be behind you. Oh yes they will!
Cinderella is at the Sunderland Empire until Sunday 6th January 2008. For further information go to the link below.
last updated: 20/12/2007 at 12:30