Chris Jarvis as Buttons and Charlotte Wood as Cinderella

Cinderella: Lighthouse, Poole

After nearly 30 years of pantomime, CBeebies star Chris Jarvis really knows his stuff and his experience certainly shines through in this wonderful festive family show. 

The very phrase ‘family show’ can sometimes ring alarm bells. It can be shorthand for twee, dull and safe. Not in this case. As writer, director and star, Jarvis takes the classic rags-to-riches story of Cinderella and makes it absolutely sparkle.

This is traditional panto which really does hit the spot with audiences of all ages. You can take your four-year-old, you can take your granny and it’ll be a romp along laugh a minute for both.

It’s superbly written with lots of sharp humour, wordplay, topical references and a cleverly judged smattering of subtle innuendo. What’s more the story is actually set in Poole at the Hardup Hall Hotel on the Olde Quay.

Chris Jarvis is in his element as the lovelorn bellboy Buttons trying to save Cinderella from the cruelty of her Ugly (and evil) stepsisters, Nadine and Doris (geddit?). Garish in fabulously grotesque costumes, they in turn are determined to stop Cinders going to the ball and finding love with the dashing Prince Charming.

The cast is exceptional. Charlotte Wood is superb in the title role while the Ugly Sisters (Andrew Pollard and Alim Jadavji) are seasoned panto pros steeped in the skills of the genre. 

Meanwhile Simon Rawlings returns to his roots in Bournemouth and Poole to play their scatty stepfather Baron Hardup. While Tyger Drew-Honey - best known for TV shows like Outnumbered and Cuckoo - is perfect as Prince Charming and Alex Vass is a hoot as his trusty and rather besotted manservant Dandini.

Special mention should also go to Lauren Azania who excels as Fairy Godmother. All grand stuff performed by actors of real class. Great lights and sound, the wit is razor sharp and the set pieces work a treat complete with magical tricks and props including real Shetland Ponies.

If you only see one pantomime this year, make it this one. Another triumph for Lighthouse’s in-house production team. Cinderella runs until New Year’s Eve.

Jeremy Miles

© Jeremy Miles 2022