There is a saying: 'Never look back'. If Cinderella did, she would have picked up the slipper and not married the Prince' Yet it is impossible not to look back and compare this year's festive offering at the Nottingham Playhouse, given the excellence of years gone by.
But there's no need to worry, oh no there's not, because yet again Kenneth Alan Taylor has pulled out of the hat yet another truly magnificent family pantomime. Overflowing with traditional values, the production is the embodiment of the perfect picture book fairy tale. Tim Meacock's set itself with glittery snow covered trees reminds me of a pop-up book as a child; colourful, bold and mesmerising as we move effortlessly from the village to the woods, Hardupp Hall and The Royal Palace
Cinderella is my favourite fairy tale. A classic love story, which done well can be truly spectacular and this production doesn't disappoint. Three decades and thirty-four pantomimes worth of practice from Kenneth Alan Taylor not only succeed in getting the audience involved from the start with plenty of participation but also brings to life a world of make-believe which begins with magical dancing woodland creatures.
There are no 'showbiz' names as such or special effects to pull in an audience, instead, we rely on good old-fashioned fabulous acting and storytelling. The strong cast has both new and familiar faces. Nottingham's favourite Dame John Elkington returns on form providing the comedy and ad-libs: this year he plays Bella, one-half of the ugly sisters. Newcomer Darren Southworth as Donna completes the pairing. They're not scary or evil, nor is Rebecca Little who joins them in a slight change to the story as the wicked leather-clad aunt, Dowager Duchess Devilla, more naughty than nasty. Tim Frator is back as our adorable lovestruck Buttons, bringing energy and sentimentality to the role. New to the playhouse panto are our leading characters. James Nicolson as Prince Charming delivering one of the strongest vocal performances in his professional debut, alongside our soft heroine for young theatre-goers, Cinders herself, Kelly Agredo.
Expect music old and new too. Delightful musical interludes move the story along. From Queen's 'Somebody to Love' to Scouting for 'Girls She's So Lovely' and Bette Midler's 'The Rose', all are used to narrate the well-known tale, along with a surreal tap danced version of Rag and Bone Man's 'Human'.
If you want the nostalgia and charm of a real Pantomime then this one is for you. The Nottingham Playhouse seem to succeed year after year in delivering spellbinding panto with the comfortable ease of slipping into your favourite Christmas slippers.
Cinderella runs at Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 20 January 2018.