A uniquely British tradition, pantomime is as much a part of Christmas as the Queen's speech and Boxing Day food comas. This year, the Mayflower is treating Southampton audiences to Qdos Entertainment's comedic retelling of the classic Cinderella.
Versatile entertainer Brian Conley headlines as Buttons, alongside TV fashion guru Gok Wan as The Fairy Gokmother. While Cinderella (Lauren Hall) dreams of attending the Prince's Ball, she must instead clean the house for her domineering Ugly Sisters (Martin Ramsdin and David Robbins). Buttons too has a dream - to snog Cinderella. But the perpetually friend-zoned sidekick doesn't stand a chance, unless he can somehow magic her up a fashion makeover and ride to the event of the year. That's where the Fairy Gokmother comes in. The situation grows even more complicated once the Prince (Chris Ellis-Stanton) develops a soft spot for her too...
Modern pop classics are all given a unique twist, including the Ugly Sisters rendition of Lady Gaga's 'Born This Way', Buttons crowd-pleasing performance of 'Happy' and Cinderella's suitably fairytale-themed 'A Moment Like This'. All of which had the audience clapping and singing along.
The cheeky humour is a mix of fart jokes for the kids and double entendres for the parents. Additional fun is had when Brian mischievously diverts from the script, causing Gok Wan to break into laughter. It's clear that even after multiple performances that the entire cast are having as much fun as the audience.
No expense has been spared with the production either. In addition to the fabulous costumes and elaborate sets, there's a flying pumpkin carriage, pyrotechnics, incredibly cute animals, the biggest disco ball that I've ever seen, and a surprisingly authentic take on 'Southampton's Got Talent'. There's plenty of audience participation throughout too, with a highlight being when some younger members are invited on stage.
By the end of the show, Brian Conley has the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand, before a well-deserved standing ovation. Cinderella is must-see, wildly entertaining pantomime that will leave the entire family with huge smiles on their faces this Christmas. Oh yes it will.