Ideal for the kids (and a good job too as there were plenty in) Cinderella (at The Broadway Theatre, Barking until 2 January) is a traditional panto with plenty of broad laughs (though very few double entendres), plenty of audience participation and plenty of spectacular bells and whistles that drew gasps from kids brought up on CGI and computer games. It underlines - as if we needed telling - that live shows are different and, after such an introduction, it's nice to think that some of the youngsters might come back to a theatre at the heart of its community.
That perspective is evident in the casting of local teen Amy Green as Cinders - she took a bit of time to find her stride with the singing, but came through strongly, especially leading the even younger chorus through a dance number pulled off with great aplomb. The music (written and directed by Phil Gostelow with lyrics by the show's writer, Clifford Oliver) was a real highlight - channeling the spirit of Lionel Bart in amongst the diaspora of the old East End in which he grew up.
There's plenty of solid support from a cast who understand that panto is much more of a show than a play, with the kids in the audience squealing with delight every time an ad lib was picked up and incorporated into the action.
At two hours long (not including an interval) Carole Pluckrose's production gives great value for money. More importantly, the pace is brisk enough to discourage even the most disengaged of kids from reaching for the Nintendo DS, and the witty script and super songs provided plenty for the mums and dads too. More East End than West End - but no less fun for that - this Cinderella is a great family night out that will live long in kids' memories as an introduction to the magic of live theatre.