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Review: Cinderella at Contact is a ‘sparkling and sassy spectacle full of gags’

Step into the enchanting world of Eight-Freestyle's latest production, "Cinderella" at Contact. With a modern twist, this panto brings together dazzling dance routines, hilarious gags, and a feisty Cinderella who's all about breaking stereotypes

Last year I went to see Eight- Freestyle’s production of Robin Hood – The 80s Panto! at Contact.

And there was something really refreshing about this show, from the huge cast of community dancers, through to the leads who loved the unpredictable nature of the panto audience, and the 1980s backdrop made it feel great for parents and grandparents who remember hair gel and New Romantics.

Cinderella At CONTACT

This year they are back with their retelling of Cinderella and we are very much in the ‘here and now’ with references to fast fashion, the environment and Prince Harry’s book Spare and musical numbers from Greta Gerwig’s hit film Barbie and the queen of the blockbuster stadium tour; Taylor Swift.

Director Sean Canning has a huge cast here, and whilst some have a chance to shine, there are a few supporting characters, who have so little to do, that they end up coming on, saying a line and then simply exiting. And that’s a shame, as there is so much talent here.

Rebecca Crookson’s Cinderella balances the sweetness of her well-known protagonist with a feisty flavour, which is really welcome.

I loved her references to upcycling clothes, as it sits well with the original story, we well as appealing directly to young people in the audience. And instead of waiting for a man, she just wants to dance.

The songs when they arrive work best when they upbeat dance numbers, as this gives the troupe of young dancers, a chance to give it their all.

It also means that the audience feels more involved.

Amazing Ballads

In contrast, the ballads such as Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time and When You Believe from the animated classic and stage musical –  The Prince of Egypt tend to slow things down, as they don’t gel very with the ad-libbing and freestyle delivery of some of the other scenes.

Choreographer Michella Louise produces brilliant dance routines and when the 20 young dancers are in their element delivering these, the audience responds, even managing to put their sweets down to engage with the show.

“I Like to Move It” danced by a cast of mice, is a highlight and this panto would benefit from more numbers like this, and bigger more earnest songs trimmed down to medleys, as two and a half hours is just too long for all of the little ones who know the story, they just want it’s greatest hits.

Lady Bushra and Misty Change Bring the Fire

Lady Bushra and Misty Chance bring plenty of fire and sass to the proceedings and they deliver their gags with aplomb and confidence, as the ugly sisters. I just wish they were on stage more, as when they appear the kids and adults come alive.

The band are excellent and they provide the soundtrack for many a banger, and come into their own during the dance numbers.

Red Redmond as Buttons engages audience members, as he is a real panto pro, last year he was part of a double act and this kept the gags flowing.

He and Kate Mitchell (the Fairy Godmother) would benefit from more scenes together, as they have great chemistry.

There are some funny gags here and some of the more adult humour, goes over the heads of the ankle biters but causes parents, and older members of the audience to chuckle knowingly, sometimes heartily.

And the young dancers keep the momentum going, along with some really great video projections, and contemporary references.

Cinderella is at Contact until 31st December and tickets can be booked here

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