Cinderella, Theatre Review. Epstein Theatre, Liverpool.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *

Cast: Calum Best, Alison Crawford, Beryl Marsden, Michael Chapman, Tom Burroughs, Lesley Butler, Chris Barton, Lewis Pryor.

The Ugly Sisters are running amuck at Hard-Up Hall, the evil step-mother has all under her spell and Buttons is infatuated with the most beautiful girl in all the land, things are never simple in Panto land and for Cinderella, the day is one where her life gets turned upside down and the story of her rags to riches existence becomes a tale of woe banished by charm.

The Epstein Theatre has created its own indelible stamp on the Christmas period, a home grown panto which stays true to the ethos of the festive bundle and in this year’s offering, Cinderella, the captive faces of the young and old alike stand testament to the belief in providing good honest entertainment.

Michael Chapman remains a true delight as one of the best Ugly Sisters or Panto Dames around, his ability to make children feel at ease, a stipulation of British Pantomime, comes across in the outlandish sweeping statements and generous playful teasing. Adults and parents might get a lot out of remembering what it means to be a child at the Panto, the magic, the glitz and glamour of a British institution, the first flourish of experience with the greasepaint and it takes someone special to make that encounter all the worthwhile.

In Michael Chapman, who also wrote this year’s play for the Epstein Theatre, the action and reaction between the performers and the children is bordering upon legendary and it installs confidence for the future of Liverpool theatre to have the younger members of the audience so enthralled at the goings on stage.

With Tom Burroughs giving just as much support in the frock department to Mr. Chapman, Lewis Pryor being a young star in the making as Buttons and the ever professional Alison Crawford, as the heroine Cinderella, bringing the story to life, the cast were in fine form and the true mark of a good panto is when the performers get as much out of it as the children, and with Calum Best and Liverpool legend Beryl Marsden making their Panto debuts, the smiles on stage were honest and gratifying.

The Epstein’s Christmas Panto is one not to miss, local theatre at its most enjoyable and with that big name star quality that just oozes festive smiles; a grand night out for the family.

Ian D. Hall