It’s that time of year when theatres across the UK are filled with gangs of families screaming “he’s behind you” as panto season is in full swing. The Grand Theatre in York is no exception to the rule, with their offering, the classic Cinderella story, featuring a cast that includes Amy Thompson from Channel 5’s Milkshake, former Corrie star Ken Morley and Liberty-X singer Michelle Heaton. Unfortunately, early on in the run, Ken Morley fell victim to an illness which has temporarily forced him off the show but, all credit to the rest of the cast and team involved for not only soldiering on without him but for also managing to rework his part in the story at short notice.
First off, in an age where political correctness is ruining almost every tradition, credit must also go to the team involved for making sure this version of Cinderella wasn’t one of those traditions. Sticking true to the story, albeit with the addition of a stream of modern references, this is the Cinderella story we all know and love. It’s also pantomime in its purest form complete with all your favourite panto characters, cheeky jokes and silly costumes. The jokes range from puerile and childish right through to the kind that, thankfully, only the adults in the crowd would be sniggering at. As for the cast, aside from the missing Morley who, had he been fit to appear, would have been the perfect cherry on top of this cake, every part was played exactly how it should have been and the casting of Heaton as the Fairy Godmother complete with strong Geordie accent and use of her local Geordie dialect, was just pure genius.
The jokes came thick and fast, the hilarious reworking of “Twelve Days of Christmas” was five minutes of slapstick perfection and the inclusion of modern pop tracks like George Ezra and the bloody infuriating Baby Shark had panto lovers young and old up out of their seats and dancing in the aisles. With all manner of traditions falling foul of the PC brigade, it’s nice to see that this is one that hasn’t yet succumbed something that almost a thousand people in the Grand Theatre were certainly thankful of as Cinderella and the gang made sure they all had an absolute ball!