CINDERELLA at the Theatre Royal, Bath

Cinderella  Bath 2014 Photo credit Freia Turland

“This Christmas Bath theatre goers are being treated to the firm family favorite pantomime, Cinderella, starring children’s TV and award winning Tracy Beaker star, Dani Harmer as Cinderella. As the guileless daughter of recently remarried Baron Hardup (Richard Colson), of Hardup Hall, Dani brings a sweetness to the role which was clearly appreciated by the audience. Relentlessly put-upon by the baron’s new stepdaughters, The Ugly Sisters, only a character of superhuman niceness would not have retaliated with some pretty sharp words . . . This is a great family-friendly show which the smaller children will love. . .”

MUPPITS DIE HARD at the Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol

Muppets Die Hard - sq

“. . . The three actors are a fantastic and full of energy as they juggle between puppets. The many puppets themselves – created by one the performers, Carina Bona – look authentic, and were manipulated excellently. . . The vocal talents of the company are also put to the test in this hour-long bonanza; with a couple of dynamite songs including ‘A New York Cop’ and ‘I Am an Exceptional Thief.’ Harry Humberstone’s Alan Rickman is very impressive, and very funny . . The action-fuelled feel of Die Hard is captured on a miniature scale by a continual dramatic underscore, toy helicopters, sparklers and party poppers in place of bombs.

ALADDIN at the Malvern Festival Theatre

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” . . . UK Productions return to Malvern Festival Theatre this yuletide with a gem of a pantomime, Aladdin! For those of you who have been locked away in the Cave of Wonders for all eternity, this is the tale of a poor street urchin with big dreams, who falls in love with a princess and the magical journey that takes him from China to Morocco and back again in order to make his dreams come true. . . Robert Powell, is wonderful as the evil Abanazar. His booming voice and humility at being the butt of many jokes about his career and theatrical training make him the most endearing of baddies. . .”

Dick Whittington at the Bristol Hippodrome

Idle Jack (Andy Ford) and Sarah the Cook (Eric Potts)

“. . . Christmas arrives at Bristol’s Hippodrome in the form of that parallel universe known as pantomime with its surreal and improbable plots – much of which is in rhyme – where love is usually ‘at first sight’, animals have amazing powers and cross-dressing is the norm. This is real ‘show biz’. . . The show has the additional treat of some eye-popping 3D visuals in the form of an undersea cartoon of the shipwreck that lands them all up on the coast of Morocco. . . “

EDUCATING RITA at Everyman Studio Theatre, Cheltenham

EDUCATING RITA opens in the Studio of the Everyman, Cheltenham

“. . . It would be impossible not to be interested in Willy Russell’s Rita and Frank. Rita has the infectious, uninhibited enthusiasm and humour of the cliché Scouser while Frank has seen better days and finds solace in a bottle until the arrival of Rita revives his raison d’être. Frank the university lecturer, Rita the hairdresser who, as we used to say, wants to better herself. . . The story is essentially that of Shaw’s Pygmalion but to me this is a much deeper play. Frank is a much fuller, sadder character than Higgins and Rita an eager guinea pig rather than a reluctant one. . .”

THE TWELVE DATES OF CHRISTMAS at the Old Joint Stock, Birmingham

Twelve-Dates

“. . . Sarah Gain is full of warmth on stage. It would be a hard job to dislike her Mary, even as she impetuously ignores her mother’s phone calls. She is engaging and fun, camp and vulnerable in equal measure. Her voice work is great, too: accents and tones aplenty. . . A key emotional moment, early on in the play, sold as humour, comes when Mary has to be terribly happy for someone else while terribly sad herself. . .