Theatre Review: CINDERELLA – Opera House, Manchester

The cast of CINDERELLA at Manchester's Opera House

The cast of CINDERELLA at Manchester’s Opera House. Photo Credit: Phil Tragen Photography

With its marvellous costumes, silly script and fun musical numbers, CINDERELLA is a traditional pantomime that does not disappoint

It’s that time of year again, (oh no it isn’t…) and the Opera House Manchester does not disappoint with it’s glitzy and bold pantomime, CINDERELLA.

Everything you expect from a traditional panto is included here, with plenty of laughs, digs at the audience and convoluted comedy skits. Comedian and pantomime veteran Ben Nickless carries the show as Buttons, providing many of the funniest moments. He runs wild with impressions and puns and it’s always fun to see him go off script when things don’t go completely to plan. His energy and enthusiasm are unwavering and infectious and he sets a brilliant tone for the whole show.

Connor McIntyre and Les Dennis also provide plenty of laughs as the villainous ugly stepsisters, Phelina and Michaela. There are plenty of CORONATION STREET gags and a few digs at other soaps thrown in too! They brilliantly strike the balance between detestable and entertaining and every moment with them onstage is a riot. This is also helped by the garish and extravagant outfits they wear throughout the show and you find yourself wondering what they are going to wear next.

Gareth Gates and Shannon Flynn have plenty of charm as The Prince and Cinderella and Gates gets to perform his well-known rendition of Unchained Melody. Their first meeting in the woods also allows for some slapstick and visual comedy with Buttons in tow. Flynn doesn’t sing much in the show, which was a shame as she has a nice voice and it would have been nice to hear more of it.

Some of the singing performances don’t always completely hit the mark, but with fun and recognizable songs from The Greatest Showman and Sister Act cropping up, that can be forgiven. The ensemble also deserves recognition, as it was obvious they were giving it their all which is always wonderful to see. They have plenty of moments to shine, whether it be as tap dancing pumpkins or The Village People, they seemed to be having a great time.

The set and costumes for this production are spectacular, with plenty of glitter and glitz, it’s often a sight to behold. The Prince’s ball is a particularly beautiful scene, with a lavish set, ballgowns, and some lovely choreography. There’s also plenty of “wow” moments in the show. Cinderella’s dress transformation is sure to get a few gasps from the children, but it’s her magical coach and horses that will really blow you away.

Yet this particular panto lacks the traditional audience participation singalong, which some audience members might be relieved to hear. Instead, they opt for a rendition of “If I Were Not Upon the Stage”, the skit provides plenty of fun and certainly gives Ben Nickless more opportunity to steal the show.

Full of family fun, the Opera House has really delivered this panto season. With marvellous costumes and special effects and fun songs and dances, there’s something for everyone, and you’ll be roaring with laughter by the end of the show. The kids will love it, so it’s not to be missed.

4 out of 5 stars

CINDERELLA runs at the Opera House, Manchester until 30 December 2018.