Tuesday, April 23

Cinderella – Contact Theatre

Panto season is well and truly upon us, with this unique retelling of Cinderella just one of many pantomime offerings to get Manchester audiences feeling festive this year.

Featuring a treasure trove of talented performers, this version of Cinderella is the story we all know and love – disenfranchised girl bullied by her relentless stepsisters, until she meets her Prince Charming at the ball – but with some comedic twists, in true pantomime style.

Director Sean Canning said he hopes the audience “will cheer, boo and clap along” – and that, they did. The show had everything you could want from a classic pantomime: drag queens, tongue-in-cheek humour, theatrical villains and fabulous song and dance numbers.

Photo: Shay Rowan

The script was a little lost in parts, and some of the songs (particularly in the first act) were a little underwhelming, but one thing that was consistent throughout was the incredibly well choreographed dance sequences. There were high-octane numbers performed by a tremendously talented cast across all ages and abilities. One must mention the quintet of Daisy Branson, Jeanelle Hamilton, Erin Dizon, Ry’Shawn Lee and Sam Davison, who were scene stealers during their dance sequences.

The acting in some places left something to be desired – but there were some standout performances here too, namely Ella-Maria Danson as Dandini and Kate Mitchell as Fairy Flo. And of course, it wouldn’t be a panto without the magnificent queens: Lady Bushra and Misty Chance played the wicked stepsisters perfectly. Their on-stage chemistry was palpable, and their stage presence was as wonderfully boisterous as their fabulous costumes. They were by far the stars of the show.

It was clear to see that much consideration (and possibly the largest chunk of the budget) had obviously been spent on costumes rather than set production, which was a shame – I do have to say the performance would have been much better received if more thought had gone into the staging. 

That said, the team at eight-freestyle did a wonderful job of entertaining, surprising and delighting the audience throughout the 90-minute show – all the hallmarks of a great pantomime. All in all, a well-received, wholesome family show.

Cinderella is showing at the Contact Theatre, Manchester from 9th – 31st December 2023. https://contactmcr.com/

Reviewer: Hannah Wilde

Reviewed: 14th December 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.