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Panto Review: ‘Cinderella’ at The Kings Theatre, Portsmouth

With tiny Shetland ponies, reality stars and more panto sequins than sense, it can only be Cinderella at the Kings Theatre in Portsmouth.

Panto season is well and truly in full swing, and as a full card-carrying member of the flamboyance and sequins club, I for one am very happy.

With this in mind, I am pleased to report that Portsmouth’s Kings Theatre production of Cinderella, ticked all these boxes and many more, with their giggle-a-minute (and slightly off-script) offering.

Jake Quickenden Panto Portsmouth Prince Charming

Jake Quickenden

The bill this year is topped by Jake Quickenden of X-Factor, I’m A Celeb… and Dancing on Ice fame, strutting his stuff as Prince Charming. As someone who normally shies away from reality TV, I had to Google him but his performance – complete with full Scunthorpe accent – was rather fabulous and I was definitely a fan by the end of the show.

Marcus Patric Kings Theatre Panto Cinderella Portsmouth Dandini

Marcus Patric as Dandini

However, for me, the name I was most excited about was local lad Marcus Patric playing the Prince’s friend Dandini. For anybody of a certain era, Marcus was the rather dishy firemen Ben from Hollyoaks, who got us through many a hangover on the T4 omnibus. The years may have passed but he is still rather swoon-worthy and his cheeky demeanour helped him play his role of the Prince’s wingman perfectly.

Kaya Rose as Cinderella and CBBC's Simon Grant as Buttons

Kaya Rose as Cinderella and CBBC’s Simon Grant as Buttons

Cinders herself was played by Kaya Rose who, despite her rotten lot, managed to remain smiley and happy throughout. Playing the role to a tee she had me feeling very sorry for her and utterly frustrated, in equal measure. That and her crowning glory of crazy curly hair made her performance very memorable.

Paul Lawrence-Thomas Harry Howle Ugly Sisters Portsmouth panto

(L-R) Paul Lawrence-Thomas and Harry Howle

Jack Edwards Wicked Stepmother Cinderella Kings Theatre Portsmouth

Jack Edwards as the Wicked Stepmother

Jack Edwards, Harry Howle and Paul Lawrence- Thomas’ depictions of the Wicked Stepmother and Ugly Sisters, were utterly fabulous. Why have one dame when you can have three? With absolutely ostentatious outfits and crude jokes aplenty (my three-year-old LOVED this), I wasn’t entirely sure if I was meant to hate them or befriend them. With the number of sequins and sparkle in their wardrobes though, I’m leaning towards the latter.

Natasha Barnes Fairy Godmother Kings Theatre Portsmouth Cinderella

Natasha Barnes as the Fairy Godmother

The performance that absolutely stole the show was Natasha Barnes as the Fairy Godmother. Another Hampshire local, she has appeared on TV and in the West End (stepping in for Sheridan Smith) and has just released her first album. Her singing was absolutely phenomenal, even crushing a version of SIA’s Chandelier. She also happened to magic up a couple of ADORABLE Shetland ponies to draw the carriage and everybody was awwwing while also on tenterhooks if they were going to ‘mess up’ the stage.

What wasn’t there to like? Well, for those who are used to the Disney tale of poor orphaned Cinderella rather than the more traditional story, the story has a few twists, turns and additional characters in the mix that confused my youngest.

12 days of christmas skit portsmouth cinderella kings theatre pantomime

Marcus Patric, Simon Grant, Jake Quickenden and Jack Edwards

Comedy-wise it was a little less slapstick than I’d expect from a panto show, but nonetheless, it was still incredibly funny and accessible for even the youngest in the audience. With personal digs about “X-Factor Rejects”, a whopping great fall from Prince Charming, plus the Wicked Stepmother yanking down the curtain during the traditional 12 Days of Christmas skit (something I’m still not quite sure if it was scripted or not), the room was guffawing and the cast was suppressing giggles throughout, added to the fun of the show.


Good for: Small kids and big kids. The levels of humour throughout kept the adults laughing and the kids chuckling. Even if your children think they’re a bit old for a Christmas show, the reality talent on offer is enough of a draw.

Not for: Super traditionalists and those wanting major celeb offerings. There’s modern pop songs, no cringe-worthy pantomime horse (sob), and instead of throwing sweets out to the audience, they threw loo roll. Also, if you hate the Baby Shark song (dooo, dooo, dooo, dooo), then be prepared!

Dare to disagree? Be my guest! It’s on until Sun 6 Jan and family tickets (2 adults, 2 kids) start at £88.

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