You simply can’t beat going to a Great British panto during the Christmas period, and it is always on our bucket list of festive family things to do in the run up to Christmas.
This year we were kindly invited to see Cinderella at the Mercury Theatre at Abbey Fields, in the historic Essex town of Colchester, and the kids (and I!) were so excited.
The Mercury Theatre always put on fantastic Christmas pantos. Last year’s Jack and the Beanstalk was up until now our favourite ever, but Cinderella did not dissapoint and is firmly joint top with my two kiddos.
This year whilst the Mercury Theatre undergoes major renovations, it was held in a 840 seat state of the art pop-up theatre at Abbey Fields. I wasn’t sure what to expect if I am honest, but the venue was great. On site car parking made things a lot easier with three kids in tow, and as you entered into the large Big Top it truly felt like you were entering a magical space.
The foyer as you entered had a large Christmas tree and fairy lights adorning the ceilings with all you would expect to find from a theatre venue: full undercover and heated with toilets, bar, kiosks and plenty of space which was nice considering the venue was nearly sold out. My only slight niggle is the seats weren’t as comfortable as those of the origninal theatre, but the kids didn’t complain.
The story itself was a reinterpretation of the classic fairytale. It had all the elements of the original rags to riches story, along with some added humour, fab musical numbers, modern twists and geographical and pop culture references which the kids loved.
Humour was throughout with family friendly jokes and adult inuedos mild enough not to cause offense. The hiliarious duo of the Ugly Sisters Miley and Kylie (played by Dale Superville and Antony Stuart-Hicks, who both apperaed in Jack and the Beanstalk last year) did not dissapoint. Oliver was in absolute stitches at their ‘bath scene’, and their ‘ballet’. I also loved the way they bounced off each other, their off the cuff improv and especially when they fluffed their lines and were in stitches themselves which had the whole audience joining in.
The humour however did not stop there, and I was also particularly impressed with Nerine Skinner, who played Dandini. A character pretending to be an Italian man to get ahead in the world and become the Prince’s side kick, made for much hiliarity.
It also had all the other elements that you would expect from a family Panto. The villian of the piece was Baroness Hardup played by Genevieve Nicole, who along with her two daughters Miley and Kylie gave us plenty to boo and hiss about.
One thing I have always really enjoyed about the pantos at the Mercury Theatre, is not only do they have original songs, but they bring popular music past and present into it as well. It’s all inkeeping with the story, but the kids love it when a song comes on that they know and can sing along too. My little girls face just lit up when a song was played from the Greatest Showman! I also couldn’t fault any of their singing voices either, with special mention to the amazing voices of Nicholas McLean who played Buttons, and Deborah Tracey who played the Fairy Godmother.
The costumes were bright and sparkly, and the scenery and special effects (especially considering as it was held in a tent in a field!- in joke!) were great. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone but the end of Act One was amazing and magical and nearly had me in tears of joy.
All in all the production was fabulous, and held in a unique and magical venue. We laughed, we sang, we ahhhed (and nearly cried) and we shouted ‘he’s behind you!’! What more could you ask for from a Christmas panto?
If you are local and thinking about going to a panto this Christmas, then I can highly recommend Cinderella for the whole family. A magical location, great performance and truly a fantastic Christmas treat.
Cinderella is on until 5th January 2020, and tickets are on sale now, but if you want some hurry as some performances sell out quickly!
To find out more and to book tickets, visit the Mecury Theatres website.
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Disclaimer: We were gifted the tickets to see Cinderella at the Mercury Theatre at Abbey Fields for the purpose of this review. However, all words and opinions (as always) are my own.