Panto return is a delight at New Theatre Royal Portsmouth

Cinderella, New Theatre Royal Portsmouth, until December 31

Cinders and her sisters - Cinderella NRTP 2021
Cinders and her sisters - Cinderella NRTP 2021

A really lovely performance from Emily Day as Cinderella is the beating heart of New Theatre Royal’s first panto in more than five decades.

It’s been away a long time, but it has returned with warmth and plenty of fun.

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Cinderella up the road at Southampton’s Mayflower is a complete full-on extravaganza and hugely enjoyable – faultless in fact.

But the talented cast at the New Theatre Royal show that big budgets aren’t everything; in the end, it’s the skill, the enthusiasm and the energy of the cast that count – and the New Theatre Royal has got riches in that respect.

Day as Cinders is charming without being remotely insipid; and goodness, she can sing – the complete stage natural.

And it’s lovely too to see a rare revival of a seemingly lost panto tradition – a female Prince Charming, very nicely played by Lucy Andic.

Michael Burgen, who also directs, is an endearing Buttons, funny and suitably hyperactive; Alice Redmond keeps the rhymes flowing beautifully as the Fairy Godmother; and bringing the house down are dames and double act Harry Howle and Chris Aukett as the Ugly Sisters, man-eaters both of them.

Between them all, the cast keep the story going strongly in the first half; maybe they stray from it in the second half in one or two scenes which possibly aren’t exactly essential.

But it’s the spirit that counts – and the charm too. There is plenty of it in this New Theatre Royal panto revival. It’s very likeable, creates just the right atmosphere and looks lovely. And the music is great too – especially The Greatest Showman songs.

Panto’s back at the venue – and judging by tonight, surely it is here to stay.