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Cinderella - last show .. 18 January 2015
Cinderella, Cardiff New Theatre, 2014/15 The 2014/15 pantomime at Cardiff's New Theatre was a huge success - time and time again on Twitter, or from those around me as I left the auditorium, I heard the same phrases... "best we've seen in years", "best panto ever". The Box Office bore this out, with over 60,000 seeing Cinderella during its five week run and takings the second best on record, only narrowly beaten by a production that ran for a week longer.

From an audience perspective, having seen the show several times during its run (and given an early review previously), my highlights are countless and simply wouldn't be the same in the retelling, so I will limit myself to trying to explain what kept me going back (apart from the obvious of course!):

  • I loved how balanced the show felt, with fabulous contributions from the whole wonderful cast, no single individual dominating to the detriment of the feel and flow of the show as I've sometimes found with other pantos

  • I always love the anarchic nature of panto, the sense that not even those on stage know quite what's going to happen next - it was particularly finely-tuned in this production, belying the hard work and immense skill of a cast who kept it fresh for both themselves and their audiences through the intensity of a 12-show-a-week schedule

  • I loved the songs (though have to confess to wishing the audiences had joined in more confidently with the 'ah ah ahs'!) and will be singing them for weeks, most probably months, with a grin on my face at the memories they trigger

  • I was over the moon that Lee was part of the utterly brilliant "If I Was Not In Pantomime" line-up, allowing him to demonstrate an unexpected mastery of the feather duster and exquisite timing... though the curls were ruffled more than once by tennis racket or frying pan whistling oh so close overhead

  • And most of all, I loved that Prince Charming was so much more than the somewhat 'cardboard cutout' character he can sometimes be. Oh, and I loved the random names his Cinderella, the lovely Holly Bluett, came up with each show in response to his "but you can call me what you like"... I think Norman may be my favourite, but Joseph ran it a close second and it was beautifully fitting to end the run with Prince Lee!

  • Director, and ugly sister extraordinaire, Sam Kane, has posted his thanks to cast, crew, front of house staff and volunteers, and ALL involved in the production at the New Theatre - it is lovely to read that it was as happy a time for the company as they made it for their audiences. I hope he will forgive me repeating just his words about Lee here:

    "The wonderful Lee Mead who has smashed it out of the park every single show vocally. The boys voice box is made of Iron. What a lovely, humble and kind man he is. He nailed the part of Prince Charming for me. Which, I hasten to add is one of the hardest parts to get right."

    but it is well worth reading his wonderful words in full, which you can do on his Facebook page. I echo his thanks to all whose involvement, visible or behind the scenes, contributed to the absolute joy that was Cinderella in Cardiff this Christmas.

    Finally, a few photos to end on, with my grateful thanks to the lovely Anne Stern...
    Cinderella thumbnail Cinderella thumbnail Cinderella thumbnail Cinderella thumbnail Cinderella thumbnail Cinderella thumbnail Lee Mead and principals of Cinderella, New Theatre Cardiff, December 2014
    First published: 19 January 2015