Milton Keynes Theatre dishes up another glittering spectacular with Cinderella
Said to be the Fairy Godmother of all Pantomimes, this year’s production of Cinderella at Milton Keynes Theatre certainly lives up to expectation as veteran all-round entertainer Brian Conley heads a stellar cast in a truly glittering stage production, writes Alan Wooding.
Reprising his role as Buttons, the cheeky 62-year-old Londoner last appeared on the Milton Keynes stage in pantomime back in 2017 while two years earlier, his wonderful high-wire performance as the legendary circus showman P T Barnum remained long in my memory.
Having featured in more than 35 pantomimes, Brian recently shocked television bosses by announcing he was quitting his role as Thomas ‘Rocky’ Cotton in tv soap EastEnders, having learned that its actors would not be allowed to take time out for panto appearances.
Full of fun, he briefly reprised his ‘Dangerous Brian’ character from his own tv show along with his ‘It’s a Puppet’ catchphrase.
There’s naturally the usual ‘toilet humour’ jokes and when joined by Cinders and Prince Charming, all three knock one another off the fence, all of which had the youngsters in hysterics. Then there was that traditional panto favourite, Old MacDonald Had A Farm, which saw Brian having fun with four youngsters picked from the audience. It all went to show that he truly is an all-round entertainer.
Once again Cinderella’s wicked stepsisters, Claudia and Tess, are brilliantly played by Neal Wright and Ben Stock respectively and they certainly lived up to their ‘wicked’ mantle while wearing some of the most lavish and imaginative costumes ever… and they certainly received the right amount of boos!
Veteran entertainer Brian Conley wows the Cinderella audience with a five-star performance
Making life so thoroughly miserable for their down-trodden step-sister Cinders (played by the lovely Sarah Vaughan), the pair minced their way around the stage declaring how lovely they were. Meanwhile Sarah – who also reprises her pantomime role as Cinderella – has a wonderful singing voice and her romantic duet with Prince Charming (James Darch) was absolutely superb.
Owen Stringer also made a great Dandini while it was Brian Conley’s eldest daughter Lucy who plays the part of ‘Fairy 312’, a fairy who wants to earn her wings and become a fairy godmother by ensuring that the rags-to-riches Cinderella does go to the ball.
This was Lucy’s second Crossroads Pantomime experience and with guidance from her dad, she’s clearly one to watch.
The cast are joined by a talented Ensemble comprising Stephen Alexander, Sian Brown, Lee Callaghan, Megan Elvidge, Nat Ingham, Hannah Morcos, Elysia Pemberton and Ollie Selwood.
Meanwhile the standout moment for many in the audience was the magnificent coach and two horse sequence which ended Act One. Brian Conley (now dressed as the coachman) takes Cinderella to the ball right out into the auditorium and high above the first few rows of the gasping audience.
Special mention of the five-piece orchestra under the direction of a keyboard playing David Lane while the glittering costumes, set design, lighting and staging gives this Cinderella pantomime a true five star rating.
With two performances most days until Sunday 14 January, you can book your tickets at ATGTICKETS.COM/MiltonKeynes