The cast here is noteworthy in never losing a step; they maintain such a high degree of energy throughout the show that it never lulls, and the passion is utterly infectious to the audience.
Washed-up performer Madam Diabolique runs a dance school and lives vicariously through her daughters Windolene and Harpic. Alas, the pair are hideously untalented, which ensures Madam is all the more resentful of her stepdaughter Cinderella – a beautiful dancer who also stands to inherit her father’s money. So, despite the comforting friendship of best pal Buttons, Cinderella pines for an opportunity to get out and find someone who loves her – to “dance with under the stars”. Luckily she has the magic of her fairy godmother on her side. However, Cinderella soon learns to be careful what she wishes for, because happy endings don’t always come the way you expect them to.
The obligatory silliness of pantomime is both its best asset and worst threat – there’s a line between the manufactured cheesiness being charming and being grating. The cast here is noteworthy in never losing a step; they maintain such a high degree of energy throughout the show that it never lulls, and the passion is utterly infectious to the audience. While some of the significant number of contemporary chart-toppers seem to be a little laboured in terms of actually fitting into the story, they are very well received purely on the merits of being catchy guilty-pleasure songs.
The show is also commendable in the awareness that most of the audience will probably not be from St Andrews, but instead include a large numbers of tourists. Accordingly, localised jokes are actually accessible for a more general Scottish audience. The standout witticism of the night, however, was a self-aware crack about the strains of a small budget show. Despite this, the performance doesn’t come across as low-budget, aside from some odd doubling. The set in particular is spectacular, with a massive ‘grand staircase’ and balcony upstage. And the costume design is absolutely beautiful, especially the transformation of Cinderella’s ball gown.
While each and every actor is remarkable, there are notably impressive standouts. The ‘evil stepsisters’ – Alan Steele and Robert Elkin – play off each other brilliantly and have perfect comedic timing, keeping the audience laughing at even just a pointedly long pause. But the excellence of this show doesn’t rest simply on comedic energy; rather, every member of the cast performs at a calibre almost unexpected for a theatre the size of the Byre. Even the children who play the students of the dance school scarcely miss a beat in their animated performances. With every thread of this panto woven together in exceptional, hilarious, feel-good harmony, this Cinderella isn’t a performance to miss this Christmas.