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The Rock 'n' Roll Panto Cinderella | Liverpool Everyman

You can always rely on a good old-fashioned pantomime to get you into the Christmas spirit, and this year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto ‘Cinderella’ at the Liverpool Everyman is relevant, inclusive, and incredibly uplifting. Written by Luke Barnes, and directed by James Baker, this production takes a fresh and more modern approach, delighting and entertaining both younger and older audiences.

Taking a re-imagined look at the traditional tale of Cinderella, we are introduced to Dame Fairy Godmother (Ben Welch), a mastermind at matchmaking, who seeks one more successful love story before handing over to apprentice, Graham (Adam Keast). With a spin of the match-making wheel, it is Ellanora and Prince Charming who are destined to be matched, and the ever-determined Dame Fairy Godmother and Graham set out on a quest to convince the Queen to put on a royal ball for Ellanora and Prince Charming to fall in love.

Grace Venus (Ellanora) led the cast with such professionalism and an abundance of talent, that it was truly hard to believe that this role is a professional debut. Venus brought a perfect amount of chaos and fun to her whacky character, as well as balancing it out with a more emotional and heartfelt performance which encapsulated the loneliness that her character is experiencing. Venus’ vocal performance is incredibly strong and was a joy to watch. Ben Welch and Adam Keast performed our matchmaking duo with incredible chemistry, as they off of bounced off of each other’s ad libs and created a fun and lively atmosphere. It was also refreshing to see that whilst Welch still gave the characteristics of a panto dame, it was slightly toned down and the vocal performances could be appreciated more.

Thomas Fabian Parrish (Prince Charming) is incredibly charming, but not in our stereotypical Prince-like way. He loves reading comic books, and dons odd superhero socks, but this added way more likeability to his character. Parrish perfectly balanced a naivety and silliness to his character, that he’s bound to be a fan favourite amongst the younger audiences. Aminita Francis gave an absolutely fierce performance, both in her acting and the knockout vocals. Her rendition of ‘Queen of the Night’ by Whitney Houston was a standout performance of the whole evening.

As well as our standard gender-bending of a male presenting actor playing the role of our panto dame, it was refreshing to see Zoe West play the role of Mr Ooglay. From the outset, West, alongside our ‘ugly sister’ characters Dench (Folarian Akinmade) and Judi (Lydia Rosa Morales Scully, for this performance) worked incredibly well together to create the humour and chaos of the performance, and together they created an incredible rapport with the audience. It is evident throughout that the whole cast work incredibly hard to put on an enjoyable evening. Also, it was highlighted during the curtain call that Scully had her debut as understudy that evening with a couple of hours-notice, which was incredibly surprising due to the high standard of performance and professionalism that was demonstrated throughout the whole evening.

Isla Shaw (set and costume design) has created costumes that amplify the characteristics of each role, with the comic-book style drawings on Ellanora’s rags, to the superhero t-shirt under the Prince’s finest ball attire, and the incredible glitz and glamour of the Dame Fairy Godmother. Whilst the set is relatively simple, it does the job of bringing locations to life. With the aid of lighting (Ryan Joseph Stafford), there are some lovely visual moments as Ellanora stands on some boxes to perform the ballad ‘Skyscraper’ by Demi Lovato, and the boxes light up to signify skyscrapers. A jam-packed soundtrack of pop and classic anthems (Tara Litvack and Jamie Noar) are carefully chosen to drive the plot forwarded, as well as delighting the audience with opportunities for the cast being able to show off their vocal abilities.

Whilst the central theme and message of this pantomime is ‘self-love and self-acceptance’, which is joyous and uplifting, I felt that towards the end, the message is slightly lost. Whilst the characters find themselves choosing to ‘love themselves’, it seems slightly silly for there to be a wedding. However, I appreciate that it wouldn’t be a pantomime without a wedding!

Liverpool Everyman’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto Cinderella stuffs all the elements of a perfect panto into a stocking full of Christmas delight. This is a show that radiates joy, positivity, and spirit, and it is exactly what is needed during the festive period.


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by Marc Brenner


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