Billed as "the greatest pantomime of them all" the Birmingham Hippodrome's 2011 pantomime "Cinderella" doesn't lie!
I've been a regular panto-goer at the Hippodrome for ten years now and have seen many Cinder's go to the ball, Jack's climb beanstalks and Aladdin's find magical lamps. But this year QDOS (the UK's biggest pantomime producing company) have managed to top themselves again.
Brian Conley returns to the Hippodrome making this his 5th pantomime at the venue - a record for the theatre - and manages to bring lots of laughter for all audience members. Panto leading lady Kathryn Rooney also returns to the Hippodrome to play the title role proving she not only has the beauty of a princess but also the voice of an angel. Lynda Bellingham makes her panto debut as the Fairy Godmother making you wonder why she hasn't made an appearance before - dare I say she was the most glamorous Fairy I've ever seen?
David Robbins and Martin Ramsdin are possibly the wickedest Ugly Stepsisters I've ever seen (and with names referencing to this years X Factor they are utterly hilarious!) Dan Burton and Matthew Goodgame make an admirable duo as Dandini and Prince Charming. Basil Brush even makes his role of the Baron his own and grasps the character like any true actor would!
Having seen well over 15 pantomimes by QDOS it's easy for gags to get recycled and routines to get boring but this years production brings something fresh to the Christmas tradition... New effects mean Cinderella and Buttons both go to the Ball via a route over the heads of the audience and we see a traditional panto horse get transformed into a real life Shetland pony. There's plenty of gags and audience participation to get even the hardest pf Scrooges chuckling along. But the highlight for me was definitely watching Buttons (Brian Conley) battle it out with Prince Charming whilst singing a love duet with Cinderella... Even poor Cinders gets caught up in her hassle.
With magical songs, slapstick routines and costumes to dazzle (over 300 of them I believe) the Birmingham Hippodrome is the place to be this Christmas for festive entertainment for the whole family... Oh yes it is!