Aaaah, plus ca change, plus c’est meme chose. And tonight found me falling in love with the Everyman’s — sorry, the Playhouse’s — rock ‘n’ roll panto all over again.
This perennial festive favourite has upped sticks to its sister theatre this year, and with great results. The bigger space suits it down to the ground, its vaudevillian silliness is perfect in more traditional theatrical surroundings, and the cartoonishly brilliant cast make themselves larger than life to wreak panto havoc like never before.
An Everyman – nay, Playhouse panto is like no other and with good reason. Where else might you find musical director Tayo Akinbode sneak twenty seconds of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid into the score, while cheeky writers Sarah Nixon and Mark Chatterton try to get away with gags about holding massive balls? (“I thought you said they were fundraising events”, our hero simpers.)
The team’s ability to entertain on two levels and have a room full of hundreds of kids and adults both dying of laughter is a testament to the remarkable power of this particular production. It’s practically the same year on year, but somehow it never gets old. However this year, the new surroundings gave everything a shot in the arm.
After the show, the Playhouse’s artistic director Gemma Bodinetz said that the idea of transferring the Everyman panto to the Playhouse had been a scary prospect until they knew Francis Tucker and Adam Keast were on board. With no household names to lend a hand, a lot depends on the fact that these two are known and loved by loyal audiences. And as ever, the two own the show as the Ugly Sisters and are worth admission price alone.
This year boasted a particularly impressive cast of faces old and new, perhaps lead by Jonny Bower who took on a variety of roles for which keeping a straight face was a delicious challenge. Robert Gilbert as Prince Charming and Sarah Vezmar as our Cinders were both beautifully cast.
A panto triumph, whether you’re laughing out loud or have your head in your hands hoping the kids don’t ask why you’re finding it so funny, Cinderella (subtitle: “Mop! In the Name of Love) is so much fun, there simply isn’t anything to lose.
Cinderella runs at the Playhouse until January 21.
Thanks to Robert Day for the pics.