Cinderella, at the Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton
This is just what the Cinderella at Warwick Arts Centre isn’t – a traditional panto version of the familiar story with a glitzy, anachronistic collision of 18th century costumes and X Factor-style vocals and dance routines.
In fact, the Fairy Godmother, Niki Evans, is a former X Factor semi-finalist who sprinkles stardust with a Black Country accent.
For the third successive year The Krankies provide the comedy, and that ventriloquist dummy routine they do near the end is starting to sound very familiar.
But Janette, who last year gave us her memorable Amy Winehouse on a pirate ship in Peter Pan, this time delivers a double whammy of miniature impersonations, with a brief walk-on for Ozzy Osbourne followed by a more elaborate Susan Boyle send-up complete with giant eyebrows.
Can anyone explain why Baron Hardup and Buttons are sharing a bed? Of course, stupid – because otherwise they couldn’t do the spooks-in-the-cupboard routine.
What I like about The Krankies and their self-parodying performance is the impression they give that they just don’t care. And there is a vital element of audience complicity in this which could never work on television.
But apart from Janette and Ian this cast is, to be honest, a bit lacking in flavour. Danielle York provides the necessary winsomeness in the title role, Nic Greenshields’ Prince is very tall – as are Ben Stock and Nathan Kiley as the Ugly Sisters Trinny and Susannah – and Neighbours star Stefan Dennis’s Dandini doesn’t really seem much of a villain. Churchill the insurance-selling dog must be one of the unlikeliest and least persuasive TV celebs to have crossed over into Pantoland.
But it all looks very jolly, with an impressive flying horse to pull Cinderella’s coach at the end of Act 1.
Running time: Two hours, 15 minutes. Until Jan 31.