You couldn’t ask for a bigger performance than the one Louie Spence gave in Cinderella at Milton Keynes Theatre last night.
He’s the big-name star of the show playing Prince Charming’s aide Dandini, and he certainly gives the audience their money’s worth.
Every word, every movement, is jazzed up with a gesture, a wink, a wiggle, a spin or a jump - it’s exhausting to watch, and you can’t take your eyes off him as he leaps across the stage.
It’s not just his impressive dance moves that make the show –Louie also has perfectly timed comedy lines which raised many a laugh (even if most of them were based on how he likes boys!). Pantomime is known for its innuendo, but Louie takes it to a whole new level. I feared for the minds of the children in the audience, but hopefully the innocence of childhood and the magic of Christmas saved them from too much mental scarring. I wish I could have said the same for myself, but the image of Louie shaking his bottom faster than the speed of sound will remain with me forever.
Of course Louie wasn’t the only talent on stage; Deniece Pearson certainly carried the show musically and was fantastic as the Fairy Godmother.
Her sensational, soulful voice narrated the tale of poor Cinders, and her performance of ‘Let It Be’ in particular was spellbinding.
The transformation scene at the centre of the show when Cinders goes from peasant to princess was truly magical –complete with beautiful real live ponies (bribed with carrots to keep calm I expect), and more glitter, sparkles and diamonds than I’ve ever seen.
Kev Orkian as Buttons was brilliant –genuinely funny and kept both adults and children chuckling away throughout the show.
The Ugly step-sisters John Barr and Paul Burnham raised an impressive amount of boos, and managed to balance being both comedy characters and pretty (or should that be ugly) evil. When they force poor Cinders to tear up her invitation to the ball while dancing round her like Macbeth’s witches in the most hideous dresses and headpieces I’ve ever seen it’s really quite frightening and makes for a very powerful scene.
For all the fantastic scenery, beautiful costumes, and extremely talented cast, for me the real magic of the panto came from the children.
The juvenile ensemble were as professional as the grown-up dancers, and a joy to watch, but it was also the children in the audience and their shrieks, laughter, and gleeful faces that made the whole show so enjoyable.
The tradition of getting children from the audience up on stage for a sing-song went down well- the little lad choosing a whichetty grub for his verse of Old McDonald’s Farm and rapidly realising his error was the sort of comedy gold which cannot be planned.
Of course, the children were led by Kev, who really came into his own in the unscripted parts of the panto.
The audience were a little lacklustre in parts – it would have been nice to see them whipped up into more of a frenzy from the start, but overall they didn’t do too badly for participation. Everyone was dancing to One Direction at the end, and if you can get grown men and women to do that you must be doing something right (or very wrong!).
Whether you’re a child, a child-at-heart, or a full-on grumpy grown-up, you won’t be disappointed by Cinderella.
There’s something for everyone and I guarantee your whole body will be aching from laughing so much –just make sure you cover the little ones’ eyes when Louie does his booty-shaking!
Cinderella runs until January 6.
by Connie Primmer @LutonNewsConnie