This really is the panto that has got everything – from moments of “did that really happen?” to principals who can truly sing, from endless fart gags to an absolutely stunning flying carriage.
Pitched perfectly between lavish extravaganza and a panto full of heart, it moves along at pace, comes complete with gorgeous costumes and prioritises a clear retelling of the story.
And, thank goodness, there really aren’t too many of those moments where the cast step out of character. Such moments are so often funny, but they happen too much – and it is great barely to have any at all.
This is a show which is about the performances, and the performances are uniformly superb.
Richard Cadell, aided and abetted by Sooty and Sweep, is a terrific Buttons, hugely likeable, effortlessly funny and a wonderful magician.
Debbie McGee exudes sweetness and light as The Fairy Godmother, and Craig Revel Horwood commands the stage as The Wicked Stepmother.
But it is the depth of the cast that impresses: we aren’t given pale, characterless young lovers in this Cinderella.
Georgia Carr is a spirited, fantastic Cinders, with a superb voice. And Will Richardson as Prince Charming really does breathe life into a role which so often can be the least interesting. You actually want them to get together – however much it breaks poor Buttons’ heart.
In fact, the three of them combine beautifully for the night’s great highlight – a hilarious attempt at a love duet in the woods which is hijacked by Buttons. Great fun – and so very funny.
Cadell brings plenty of magic to the show. You wonder “How on earth did he just do that?” repeatedly. But there is plenty of magic in the wider sense – a show full of moments that you know will live forever in the little kiddies in the audience.
When Cinders goes from rags to ballgown in the blink of an eye, you are left completely gobsmacked. This is a show which delivers the true wonder of panto, most of all perhaps with that carriage absolutely beautiful as it rides into the air, the horses still clip-clopping.
The effects are superb, but the effects never for a moment leave the human emotions behind. A remarkable night at the Mayflower.