A tale of two Cinderellas
Pantomime lovers in Gloucestershire might have been scratching their heads a little to discover that the area's two major pantos this festive season are both based on the story of Cinderella.
Both the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham and The Roses in Tewkesbury have chosen the timeless rags to riches story to entertain audiences this year.
We found it slightly strange that both theatres so relatively close to each other opted for the same fairytale, but having visited early performances of both shows, Loving the Cotswolds' editor David Wood is able to give you his verdict on both productions.
Cinderella, Everyman Theatre, CheltenhamThis production has just about everything you'd hope and expect from a top-notch pantomime with several trump cards and a definite ace in the pack.
Cinderella is played with great aplomb by Ruth Betteridge who seemed like she was born to play the part, positively beaming her way through the show, singing and dancing with her knockout smile never seeming to leave her face, even when she was being so cruelly treated by her ever-so-nasty step-sisters Romoana (Wendy Abrahams) and Covonia (Kerry Whiteside).
Indeed, I heard someone next to me say that if Cinders had exhibited any more enthusiasm she would have exploded.
The 'Absolutely Fabulous' sisters were also superb, and despite getting constantly booed for their unrelenting cruelty to Cinders, they doubtless won a legion of fans for their over-the-top antics and fabulous fashions.
Cinders' mother, Baroness Hilary Hardup was played to perfection by William Elliott who knew exactly how to get the maximum laughs out of the audience, and was even able to make the most of a couple of first night dialogue slip-ups.
But there was one cast member who was responsible for elevating this panto from being exceedingly good to quite outstanding. Take a bow, Tweedy the Clown.
Fans of Gifford's Circus will already know that Tweedy is a real gem of an entertainer and he was able to seamlessly transfer his ample circus skills to the panto stage, but also show us another string of his bow as a comic actor.
Tweedy was just perfect playing the part of Buttons and he found a great comic foil in Baroness Hardup during some some hilarious scenes.
With some great catchy songs, dance routines (including a showstopping one to Uptown Funk) and a terrific feelgood factor throughout, Cheltenham's Cinderella, written and directed by Phil Clark, is a five star winner.
The show runs until Sunday, January 10. Visit www.everymantheatre.org.uk or call the box office on 01242 572573.
Cinderella, The Roses, TewkesburyWriter and director Ben Crocker has produced yet another first-rate panto at The Roses, with hardly a chink in its armour.
Without exception, the cast excel themselves with the plaudits shared between the main characters who worked their socks off to entertain an appreciative audience.
Lizzie Franks appears as a rather fragile-looking Cinderella but she delivers an assured all-round performance.
Cinders' number one fan Buttons (Luke Adamson) holds the show together in a cheeky but confident manner and is sure to be a favourite as this panto run progresses.
The Ugly Sisters, Beryl and Cheryl, are played in fine style by Noel White and Jeffrey Harmer, who won plenty of laughs from the grown-ups with their liberal use of innuendo, as well as getting regularly booed by the children.
But the biggest boos of the night were reserved for their wicked mother, the Baroness, superbly played by Kali Peacock, who was definitely not to be messed with.
Prince Charming (Ebony Buckle) and her manservant Dandini (Gemma Wilson) provided another assured double act.
Some inspired song-and-dance numbers included a very entertaining medley of the Seventies Glam Rock number Ballroom Blitz and this year's favourite dance number Uptown Funk, which was co-incidentally also used in the Everyman's Cinderella.
Cinderella runs at The Roses until Saturday, January 2. Visit www.rosestheatre.org or call the box office on 01684 295074.