Bristol Hippodrome 2016/17
Our Verdict: Torvill and Dean make this show a magical experience
Our Rating: 8/10
Cinderella at The Bristol Hippodrome was going to have to pull out something amazing to restore my good mood before it had even started. The joy of a having a coke bottle fall on me from the Grand Circle and the misfortune to sit in a row full of the rudest people I have ever encountered within a theatre audience did not bode well.
It didn’t quite make amazing, but there were certainly some brilliant magical moments peppered through the easy going show. Thankfully, the Eric Potts script managed to be largely inoffensive, though was filled with pantomime-by-numbers lines we’d all heard so many times before. And the ‘Boys and Girls shall I go into the wardrobe?’ line had me groaning into my expensive gin and tonic. Why must we still have incredibly stupid female characters for young girls to aspire to.
As irritating as the role of Cinderella in panto is, Rhiannon Chesterman was quite a good one. During the finale, she was able to really let loose and belt out some songs that showed what she was really capable of.
I really missed Andy Ford this year. The Bristol comedian has been the funny man for something like five or six pantomimes at the theatre. This year he has defected to Woking Theatre with last year’s top billed celebrity Warrick Davis. His warmly received village idiot routine knew exactly how to break in tough Bristol audiences still simmering in their seats from fighting through rush hour traffic to get to the centre of Bristol.
Instead, we had the funny and capable comedian Jarred Christmas as Buttons. His polished performance was perfect, but I missed the way Andy Ford greeted and warmed up the audience like life long friends.
Most of the best humour came in the form of well cast double act Blair Gibson as Prince Charming and Samuel Holmes as Dandini – also the assistant director. Blair was an excellent Prince, especially considering this was his first professional role. I’m not sure how much Samuel Holmes was actually acting, but he made me laugh in a with-him way as the ostentatious valet.
The end of act two was admittedly very magical. Cinderella’s on stage transformation was brilliant, with one of those clever dowdy dresses that with an emergency pull cord exploded into a shimmering ice ball costume worthy of Queen Elsa. The set had probably depleted the UK of all commercial glitter sources and for good measure, we also had a snow machine gently creating a mystical wintry feel in the auditorium.
The only thing to spoil it was the little white horse. I’ve seen Cinderella a few times over the years and white horses are always used to pull on the pumpkin carriage. I’ve also seen horses slip, trip and panic on stage. Rather like bigoted humour and racism, I don’t think horses have any place in pantomime anymore.
The ice and winter theme really did work for this show, which of course was added for the benefit of skating sensations Torvill and Dean. It’s only their second round of pantomime performances, but they were dazzling.
Performing on roller blades instead of skates didn’t make an iota of difference. They were simply amazing. Christopher Dean as King Crispin managed to squeeze as much Bristol humour into his Fairy Godfather performance as possible. Jayne Torvill as Queen Juniper was his long-suffering partner. Were they the World’s Greatest actors? Probably not. But they were the World’s Greatest Skaters and that was enough for me. At the end of the show, the theatre set vanished from the stage and the pair performed a version of their world famous Olympic Gold winning performance of Bolero. It was magnificent and totally worth the ticket price alone.
In fact, I loved it so much I’m looking forward to seeing them perform it again when attending the Relaxed Performance of the show on Thursday 29 December at 1.30pm. Please, no coke bottles balanced on the Upper Circle this time.
If you are a pantomime fan you will love this show. I’ve seen better and I’ve seen much much worse, but with the added excitement of seeing the marvellous Torvill and Dean perform Bolero and some funny moments, it’s not the worse way to celebrate the festive season.