WHEN the cast appear to be enjoying the show as much as the audience then you know you’ve struck panto gold.
Whitley Bay’s version of Cinderella saw the actors and audience having a ball in this rip-roaring retelling of the fairy-tale classic.
Cinderella is a slow burner in the first half, but it doesn’t half explode into action in the second, particularly when the water pistols and toilet rolls are unleashed.
There’s really nothing can get the kids the crowd more animated than when the threat of soaking is in the air. The audience suddenly became a part of the show when the cast ran amok with water pistols and toilet rolls, and it served to up the tempo of proceedings.
Set in Downtown Abbeyville, it’s Buttons, played by panto veteran Steve Walls, who sets the scene and provides the one-liners early on.
Ugly sisters Tulisa and Cheryl (yes, there are plenty of topical references to be found) supply the garish costumes and bawdy humour while Hollyoaks actress Jennifer Metcalfe provides the beauty as rags to riches Cinderella.
As it is, the ugly sisters, played by the gruesome twosome Danny Jay and David Drewitt, pretty much steal the show, though there is good support from Any Dream Will Do runner up Keith Jack as Prince Charming and the Baron, played by David Burton.
Sunderland’s own Suzanne Richardson ladles on the fairy dust as the Fairy Godmother and an energetic James Hedley proves an excellent Dandini.
All the ingredients for a traditional family panto are to be found in Cinderella. The sets, like the costumes, are bright and colourful, there’s also a nice mix of song, dance and slapstick, but it’s the audience participation that really makes it in the second half.
A particularly frenetic 12 Days of Christmas set-piece with the main characters went down a storm while the kids’ screaming at the appearance of a ghostly skeleton threaten to burst the old eardrums.
Chuck in the now ubiquitous Gangnam-style dance routine and Cinderella proved to be another success for the Playhouse Whitley Bay.
* The show runs until January 6, for tickets call 0844 277 2771 or visit www.playhousewhitleybay.co.uk