***Exclusive to Norwich Eye – Win a family ticket to see Cinderella – See below***

Chatting to Director Richard Gauntlett at a busy rehearsal just a few days back I was told that Cinderella would be ‘a big show, with a bit of splosh’. To be fair he also said that this Cinderella is ‘a love story with a lot of magic’. Now – a pantomime dame who also writes and directs a show may not be given to understatement, but in this instance I think our Fairy Godmother may have been characteristically modest.

This is a big stage production that includes every bit of pantomime tradition that you might expect then adds a lot to give audiences a memorable and enjoyable night at the theatre. Norwich Theatre Royal has built a loyal following over decades for their annual pantomime, and every year seems to bring a bigger, brighter and better show.

A carefully picked cast is key to good panto, and this Cinderella gets the casting just right. Cinderella is played by Kara-Lianne Jones who combines the broadest of smiles with lots of singing and dancing talent and a great stage presence. Her Prince Charming is the dapper EastEnder David Witts while the comic lead role of Buttons goes to Joe Tracini, a breathless bundle of energy gifted with great comic timing and the ability to bring the pathos out in any scene.

Richard Gauntlett, Joe Tracini, David Witts and Kara-Lianne Jones in Cinderella. Photo Julian Swainson

Richard Gauntlett is as ever the multi-talented dame who leads the show and guides young Cinderella on her tricky path to finding her true love. The Ugly Sisters, Siri and Alexa, are the tall and fierce looking Alix Dunmore and the rather shorter and wider Amanda Henderson. These two have perfected their catty double act as they take every chance to stop Cinderella from enjoying herself while they rampage around the stage. These two are fun.

The extra special delight of this Cinderella is the casting of the elegant David Gant as Baron Hardup. David is a distinguished figure with long white hair and beard, and a sonorous theatrical voice who brings a Shakespearian gravitas to proceedings. His dignified stage presence gives the perfect counterpoint to the silliness demanded by the panto tradition while giving a new depth and humanity to the Baron Hardup role.

Alix Dunmore, Amanda Henderson, David Gant and Kara-Lianne Jones. Photo Julian Swainson

The set and properties have been imported all the way from Lowestoft from a busy firm called Scenic Projects who have helped to make the Norwich Panto special for over a decade. Their sets and special effects put the magic into the show and give us many breathtaking moments. From dodgem cars to flying horses, they deliver!

This is a happy and busy panto that keeps up a fast pace. There are some charming performances from the young stars from Central School in Norwich who join the cast for dances and a few special moments. The slapstick comedy keeps everyone laughing while the songs are all familiar favourites. The ensemble dancers are a big part of the show, and come from all around the UK with two from nearby, Zinzile Tshuma from Chelmsford and Joe Press all the way from Wroxham. Often overlooked, these ensemble singers and dancers are a big part of turning a show into a spectacular. There may be one or two more surprises when you pop in to see this panto, with a postman delivering the invitations to the Prince’s ball who looked distinctly familiar from Carrow Road.

This Cinderella is a show that the whole family can enjoy together. While there is inevitably a little bit of double entendre and even a few salty jokes there is nothing remotely offensive (unless you are an Ipswich fan of course). The romantic leads are just right and the comedy is non-stop. The Theatre Royal has produced their best panto yet, and nobody in Norwich should miss it. Just make sure you get home before midnight!

© Julian Swainson 2019

Cinderella, Tuesday 17 December 2019-Sunday 19 January 2020. Tickets £10-£25. Discounts for Over-60s, Under-18s, Groups and Schools.
To book, log onto or call the box office on 01603 630000.


In conjunction with Norwich Theatre Royal we are giving away a family ticket (four seats) for Friday Jan 17 at 7pm. Just email with the heading ‘Cinderella Ticket Winner’ and include your name, address and contact phone number. One lucky family will be drawn at random and you will go the ball!

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