This production’s already closed, and all I can say is that I wish I saw it earlier in the run so that I could have done my part to warn people off: this production was absolutely terrible, putting forth every negative stereotype about panto one could imagine. The sets? Ugly. The costumes? Cheap and ugly. The TV stars? Dominic Littlewood was OK if not a bit disturbingly old as Buttons but Britt Eckland has not aged gracefully, mangling her words and forgetting her lines.
And then there’s the script: mercifully brief (45 min. per act) but the humour rarely takes off despite being a Baron Hardup edition and having the pick of the proverbial litter for satirical fodder. The song choices were OK, if not uncreative - two or three of the songs also showed up in the previously reviewed Cinderfella, which makes it doubly sad that panto writers are still using “Amarillo” as a big number. The cast in general - whose names I don’t have available - were clearly plodding through the end of a poorly sold run as the Evil Stepsisters barely stopped to breathe between lines and forced callback prompts (“Weneedtobuyadressohyeswedo.”) And then there’s the ensemble who, featuring 10 women and two men - plus children (strictly female) came across as strictly come terrifying due to permanent am-dram smiles of the sort which arise from improper cosmetic surgery or too much botox.
In short? A disappointing end to this year’s panto-going and another reminder that the hardest thing about panto is making it all seem so easy.