Mitesh Soni, Shorelle Hepkin and Richard J Fletcher Pic Darren Robinson

Panto season is upon us – oh yes it is! – and there’s a sprinkle of magic in the air at Oldham’s Coliseum Theatre which has geared up to host the fairy godmother of all pantomimes to ensure that everybody gets a chance to go to the ball.

This year sees Kevin Shaw direct his 16th Christmas spectacle at Oldham’s renowned venue. Its Kevin’s last as he’s stepping down from his role having created over 34 seasons of high quality performances for the people of Oldham and beyond.

With an already dazzling reputation, this panto does not disappoint and features a talented cast, sparkling sets, colourful costumes and some hilarious song and dance routines – the perfect ingredients for a fun filled family panto. Having a live band adds a touch of class too.

Mitesh Soni, Shorelle Hepkin and Richard J Fletcher Pic Darren Robinson

This production gives the traditional tale some fresh modern twists – the talent show at the Prince’s grand ball is just one that went down a treat with the audience.

Stealing the show as Countessa Vyella Squeezepocket the Wicked Stepmother is Sue Devaney, best known for her roles in Victoria Wood’s Dinnerladies and BBC’s Casualty. Despite playing the villain of the show, her stage presence is more than welcomed in every scene and she had the kids in awe and the adults rolling with laughter thanks to her on point comic timing.

Another stand out performance is Richard J Fletcher as Buttons the Bellboy, the Baron’s servant who is secretly in love with his best friend Cinderella. The audience lapped up his cheeky charm, slapstick humour and effortless dance moves. His high energy keeps the momentum going and the kids entertained throughout.

Fine Time Fontayne and Simeon Truby Pic Darren Robinson

The two Ugly Sisters Pumpy and Trumpy Squeezepocket, played by Fine Time Fontayne and Simeon Truby, tell gags that are a perfect blend of silly, smutty and slapstick, with just the right amount of suggestiveness for the adults and some belly laughs for the children.

In a side-splitting scene at the beauty salon, the duo go on to the ever-so-popular slop scene, a particular favourite with the kids. They are extremely witty and an absolute joy to watch, especially some hysterical outfit changes.

The juvenile chorus deserve a special mention for their extra slick dance moves and happy faces that lit up each scene. The choreography is easily up to the level you would expect to see in a much bigger production. They did an admirable job and didn’t put a foot wrong.

The Coliseum might not be one of Manchester’s biggest theatres but their annual pantomime is always very well received, so much so that it boasts a three month run, selling out almost every show.

Just like Cinderella, I had such a great night that I didn’t glance up at the clock once. Before I knew it, it was midnight – well, maybe not quite – and dashing out into the night in a sea of happy families and sugar-filled children with huge grins on their faces. A night enjoyed by all.

Cinderella is at The Oldham Coliseum until 12th January 2019.

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