Panto review: Gareth Gates, Les Dennis, Connor McIntyre star in Cinderella at Manchester Opera House

Cinderella at Manchester Opera House
Cinderella at Manchester Opera House

Scenes from life, often in a ridiculous manner.

This could easily describe recent scenes in central government or any number of recent reality TV shows.

But in fact this is the definition of pantomime, the original stage for the strutting, the glitter, the outrageous stunts and the bawdy jokes.

And I was checking out the mother of all pantomimes, Cinderella, at Manchester's Opera House.

This is the real deal.

Not just because of its all star line-up including Gareth Gates (X Factor), Les Dennis (no explanation needed), Connor McIntyre (Coronation Street), Ben Nickless (comedian)and Shannon Flynn (children's telly and Corrie) among others.

But because it took mere seconds from curtain-up for my shy and reticent nine-year-niece to 'ooh' and 'point' as Fairy Godmother, played by Hayley-Ria Christian,appears in a puff of smoke.

And that was just the start of the magic.

This is a no holds-barred panto with a budget to spend, multi-layered and designed with as much for the grown-ups as the children.

The stunts, whizz-bangs and choreography almost compete with Wicked on down the road at the Palace - the moment the fairy carriage flies is quite remarkable and lefts youngsters in the stall open-mouthed with astonishment.

But panto is as much about the down-to-earth banter and predictable jokes as the set spend and remarkable wizardry and this provides all of that.

With the support of the youngsters from the Stalder Academy of dance, the cast rampage through the lightly adhered-to Cinderella story, spraying the audience with water and making as many physical jokes as possible.

It's a joy.

And it's a joy held together by Ben Nickless as Buttons who ably stitches together this riot of a production with his lovable, lost-in-love patter and classic jokes.

Get yourself down - it's a glorious glitter-fest and the perfect antidote to Brexit and Government gloom.

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