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 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Corn Exchange - Cinderella

2nd December 2005 to 2nd January 2006.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Hip hop sisters steal the show

Cinderella, at The Cora Exchange, until Monday, January 2

Is it wrong to find the Ugly Sisters quite sexy? Dressed up to the nines like the Sugababes without a stylist (and mistaken for The X-Factor's Conway Sisters by Buttons), Rose Petal and Stupid are the Vicky Pollard and Lauren the Teenager of the pantomime stage. Their show-stealing street talk, cool gestures, knicker-flashing hip hop routines and performances of the Black-Eyed Peas' My Humps gave the production a bang-up-to-date feel.

As always, The Corn Exchange's panto Cinderella is a celebrity-free affair, and all the better for it. Proper acting, great songs and a slick script with plenty of laughs for the grown-ups (the sisters bring out a whip when their mum suggests a bonding session) makes the show fly by.

The best bits of the panto tradition - audience participation, "oh no he isn't" and a mass singalong, complete with actions - are all present and correct, but without any tedious "he's behind you" horseplay, which has always irritated me, even when I was young.

A touch of polish was still needed on the panto when I saw it on its second night - the transformation scene didn't quite come off, and there was quite a lot of foot-shuffling going on during the dance in the palace ballroom.

And I would have loved to have seen Cinderella in a different, even more stunning dress for her wedding to (the very handsome) Prince Charming at the end, but then I'm just soppy like that.

But it is a pacy show with stunning sets (Cinderella's horses-and-carriage is breathtaking), and lots of great touches, including a drastic way to force the slipper to fit - which I can't give away as it will spoil the fun.

The panto ends with a magical fall of snow on the audience.

As we left The Corn Exchange, shaking flakes from our hair, we found ourselves singing Fernando's Backwards Donkey.

All together now: "Aaw-eee, aaw-eee..."

and JOSH AINSWORTH, aged nine