Mark James on stage with other cast members in Cinderella at Malvern Theatres

Cinderella at Malvern Theatres: Review

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The fairy godmother has finished her prologue and the panto is in full swing. Suddenly the lighting changes and a familiar tune starts to play, it’s Barbie Girl by Aqua. A large pink box is wheeled onto the stage containing a familiar figure dressed as the iconic doll. The room erupts into cheers as the audience realise that their favourite funny man is back. Mark James makes his best entrance yet, a sign of things to come in this hilarious version of Cinderella.

Cinderella at Malvern Theatres: The Story

When Baron Hardup arrives back at Hardup Hall after a short break to attend an “Impulsives Anonymous” meeting, he brings with him Cinderella’s two new step-sisters. Larger than life Melody (pronounced Me Lady) and Harmony soon start to cause chaos.

Meanwhile at the palace, Prince Charming and Dandini are bored. The prince has one of his fantastic ideas and the pair decide to swap roles for the day. Whilst hunting in the forest, the prince meets Cinderella. A hilarious scene ensues where the two of them fall in love, much to the horror of Buttons who attempts to stop them.

On returning to the forest, the prince is determined to see Cinderella again and arranges a ball, inviting everyone in the Kingdom. When the step-sisters tear up Cinderella’s invite, it’s down to the fairy godmother to step in and make sure she can still go to the ball.

When princess Crystal turns up at the ball, the prince is smitten. But again, she leaves without saying goodbye, leaving just a shoe for him to trace her with.

It’s time to search the Kingdom for the girl whose foot fits the dainty slipper. There is a moment of horror when it slips neatly onto Harmony’s foot, but of course the traditional happy ending is near.

Cinderella at Malvern Theatres: The Cast and Crew

As always, the undisputed star of the show was Malvern’s favourite funny man Mark James as Buttons. I’m not sure whether I’d forgotten how funny he was or whether he is genuinely more hilarious than ever. Either way, every time he was on stage the audience were constantly in fits of laughter. The writing team have absolutely nailed it this year with a combination of amusing antics and adult jokes that completely got the best out of their returning star.

Libby and Lia stand with Mark James, the star of Cinderella pantomime at Malvern Theatres

Mark James was joined by Katie McGlynn (best known as Sinead in Coronation Street) as the Fairy Godmother. The hilarious Melody Hardup was played by Jamie Morris, with partner in crime Harmony played by Tarot Joseph. Cinderella was played by Bethan Jacks, Mark Faith played Baron Hardup, Ben Brooker was Prince Charming and Dandini was Jordan Lee Davies.

A surprising and noteworthy performance came from Musical Director Tom Self. As well as leading the band and playing the keyboard, he took on the role of Kippers, Prince Charming’s assistant. At one point during the second half, he left the music pit and joined Prince Charming and Dandini on Stage for a brilliant cameo. Another honourable mention goes to the utterly adorable and incredibly well behaved tiny ponies that came on stage amid lots of noise and chaos to pull Cinderella’s carriage. They were fabulous.

The ensemble were fantastic, too full of energy and sparkle. Adult ensemble members were Kathy Bancroft, Cole Dilley, Lily Dyde, Thomas Galés-Ellis, Ruby Hewitt and Lewis Kelly. They were joined by local children. We also loved that the cast got involved, coming onto the stage at various points.

The Verdict

Cinderella 2023 at Malvern Theatres is an undisputed triumph. Whether you are a die-hard panto fan or considering visiting for the first time this year, we highly recommend it. I do need to clarify the fact that I ALWAYS love the Malvern panto, but this year’s was the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time. The adult jokes and innuendo kept up almost incessantly throughout the performance. You may think you’ll get a break laughing with the straighter characters like Prince Charming and Dandini, but you’d be mistaken, they were hilarious.

With all the adult humour, you may be wondering whether there’s much in it for the kids this year. Thankfully, the children absolutely loved it too. It’s high-energy with familiar, upbeat songs. There’s plenty of physical comedy that kids can understand. Even my eleven year old who is obviously far too cool to laugh at the panto couldn’t help herself when Mark James was flying around the stage dressed as a pig.

Watching a Malvern pantomime feels like coming home for Christmas. But this year, the usual comforting vibes have been sprinkled with an extra dusting of hilarity. And it’s brilliant.

Cinderella  and the ugly sisters on stage with a green backdrop

Cinderella at Malvern Theatres: FAQs

When is Cinderella at Malvern Theatres?

Cinderella is showing at Malvern Theatres from Thursday 14th December 2023 to Sunday 7th December 2024.

Where can you buy tickets for Cinderella pantomime?

Tickets are available on the Malvern Theatres website. However, Mark James mentioned last night that a whopping 90% of tickets are already sold. So if you’re planning on going, I recommend booking immediately, if not sooner.

How long does Cinderella last?

Just over two and a half hours including the interval.

When is the relaxed performance of Cinderella?

The relaxed performance of the pantomime takes place on Friday 5th January 2024. This is designed for people who feel overwhelmed by the usual performance environment.

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