Written by: Simon Leary and Gavin Rutherford
Directed by: Susan Wilson
Running at Circa Theatre until 20th Dec 2020
Reviewed by: Madelaine Empson
Cinderella (Natasha McAllister) lives on Mount Victoria with her friend Buttons the rat (Simon Leary) and her wicked step siblings, real estate agents Tommy (Kathleen Burns) and Bayley (Jonathan Morgan). Meanwhile in the palace, Prince Ashley of the Blooming Fields (Jack Buchanan) must find a queen. Encouraged by his advisor Dandini (Bronwyn Turei), a real stickler for tradition, Prince Ashley announces a royal ball. After a meet cute with a mysterious stranger over a pumpkin, Cinderella scores a ticket to the ball. But with only rags to wear, and only a rat to accompany her, she’s going to need a little help. Enter Fairy Godmother Rosie Bubble (Gavin Rutherford).
The trouble is, Rosie’s still on her restricted magic licence.
Cinderella is my fourth Circa pantomime and might be my favourite to date, although that’s a hard call to make. I’ve always found the annual affair to be the perfect escape, filled with the kind of joy that makes you forget all your troubles and cares. Rutherford’s Dame is always fantastic, but this time he plays the role with strop and sass, making for a more subdued, supremely entertaining performance that brings balance to the otherwise manically exuberant production. His squabbling with Leary has me in stitches.
So too does Burns’ literal caricature of an evil stepbrother. Her physical comedy is outrageously good, especially when coupled with Morgan’s deliciously nasty, sneering stepsister. Buchanan plays Bloomfield – sorry, I mean the Prince – with infinite amounts of chill, countered by Leary’s boundless energy and stellar comedic timing. McAllister’s portrayal of Cinderella is peppy yet poised, while Turei’s powerhouse vocals bring the house down.
Tying it all together under the witty, watchful eye of Susan Wilson is Michael Nicholas Williams’ masterful musical direction. I’m still humming his arrangements the next day, my grin splitting ear to ear as I remember the fabulous frivolity of the night before.