Review by Kathryn Hayden.
Photography by Mark McNulty.

It’s the second  panto of the week for my son and I as we settle down at the Liverpool Empire to watch Cinderella.

It’s an excellent cast lead by television, musical theatre and pop star Duncan James and actress and singer Jodie Prenger.

Playing the handsome Prince Charming, Duncan James is probably best-known as a member of the band Blue and most recently as appearing in the C4 soap Hollyoaks (some of the cast are here this evening to watch him perform).  I wasn’t particularly a fan of Blue nor do I get much chance to watch Hollyoaks so I’m very pleasantly surprised by Duncan’s acting ability. Panto is quite notorious for having leading men/women who have little acting experience but Duncan certainly breaks the mould.

Fairy Godmother Jodie Prenger, won the role of Nancy in the West End through the BBC talent show ‘I’d Do Anything’ as Andrew Lloyd Webber searched for an unknown star for the revival of Lionel Bart’s ‘Oliver’.   Nine years on, she boasts a wealth of stage experience alongside a string of TV credits and, like the fairy dust she spreads, her performance sparkles.

Buttons is played by comedian and entertainer John Evans who warms the audience up with what I can only describe as really bad dad jokes but it works. Everyone is laughing and he’s become best friends with all the children before anyone else even appears on stage.  Olivia Sloyan who has a Diploma in Acting from LIPA  and a long list of theatre credits, is perfectly cast as Cinderella.

The story we all know well enfolds. Cinderella is being bullied by her very Ugly Sisters (brilliantly played by Daniel Taylor as Hernia and James Templeton as Verruca). Cinders is thrilled when they give her  a ticket to Prince Charming’s ball but then the evil pair force her to tear it up.

Little does she know, she’s already met Prince Charming and Dandini (Scott Mobley) in the enchanted forest but they’d swapped roles to help the Prince in his quest to meet a girl who doesn’t only want him for his money and were immediately love struck.

With the help of her hilarious friend Buttons (who’s very much in love with her) and her Fairy Godmother who repairs her ticket and transforms her from rags to ballgown (there’s a little bit of magic worth seeing here) she’s able to go to the ball to find her true love.

At the ball she discovers her love interest is really the dashing Prince Charming and wins his heart. As the clock strikes 12 midnight, the Fairy Godmother’s spells come to an end so Cinderella is forced to run off; leaving behind her glass slipper (or in this case a very sparkly shoe!).

Along the way, there’s the expected hilarity and a fun song with Buttons, the Fairy Godmother and Ugly Sisters which goes down a treat with the audience, stunning scenery, plenty of special effects and opportunity for audience interaction.

But the ultimate moment in the Panto comes from the production company, Qdos Entertainment who I believe are the world’s biggest pantomime producers.  I’m not going to spoil this for anyone as it’s a wonderful and spectacular surprise at the end of Act 1.

It’s not to be missed; here’s all the information on how to book:

Performance Information
Venue: Liverpool Empire Theatre, Lime Street, L1 1JE
Date: Saturday 16th December 2017 – Sunday 7th January 2018
Tickets: From £11

Tickets on sale now, to book visit the Empire Box Office, call 0844 871 3017 or buy online here.