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Cinderella Review

Simon Binns, Louie Spence and a full bag of fruit pastilles

Written by . Published on December 7th 2011.

Cinderella Review

It's panto season once more, and Manchester's Opera House has pulled off a coup by snaffling Louie Spence, star of Sky 1's Pineapple Dance Studios, to star in this year's offering.

Spence gets a full page in the show programme, where everybody else, including Cinders herself, Suzanne Shaw, only gets half.

"This production is all about Louis. His Dandini is a one-man chorus line, leaping, twirling, purring and pirouetting with exhausting enthusiasm."

The man is more showbiz than a jacuzzi full of champagne with Christopher Biggins.

Anyone familiar with the Disney cartoon will know the story of Cinderella - rags to riches, glass slippers, Prince Charming, etc - but as it's panto, we also get Buttons, played with verve by Tam Ryan.

In fact, Ryan seems to be as much a December fixture at the Opera House as panto itself. He was Muddles in Snow White last year. "Hi everyone," he said, bounding on stage for the first time. "I'm Buttons. This year."

Ryan is a decent source of quickfire gags, bar a cringeworthy Liam Gallagher-related effort. When will people stop doing that faux-monkey walk, shades and sunshyiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine thing? The ugly sisters, Beatrice and Eugene, are good value too.

George Wood As Prince Charming And Suzanne Shaw As CinderellaGeorge Wood As Prince Charming And Suzanne Shaw As Cinderella

But in reality, this production is all about Louie. His Dandini is a one-man chorus line, leaping, twirling, purring and pirouetting with exhausting enthusiasm.

His costume is typically understated; bright pink with sequins and high heels. At one point, he performed an upside-down splits so vigorous I thought his testicles were going to end up in the third row.

Fortunately, he managed to keep himself to himself, although he does need to slow down when delivering his lines a bit. His natural excitement can get the better of him at times and the dialogue gets lost.

George Wood is a decent Prince Charming and Shaw looks stunning all the way through. Her voice is the stronger of the two in the musical numbers and an attempt to modernise the production by chucking in a woeful version of Bruno Mars' 'Just The Way You Are' was misguided.

For me, Cinderella was 20 minutes too long and was dragged out to almost exasperating levels in the final ten minutes, but my five-year-old daughter had a whale of a time and I got through a whole bag of fruit pastilles in the first half, a new record.

The Opera House always serves up good panto, and Spence is a definitely a gift to the punters.

Just be careful if you sit near the front.

Cinderella is at the Opera House, Quay Street, City, until Saturday 31 December.

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Simon Binns shared this on Facebook on December 8th 2011.
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