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Buttons throws off his bluecoat

PUBLISHED: 16:04 17 December 2008 | UPDATED: 10:21 23 August 2010

HOLLYWOOD legend Steve Guttenberg heads this year's pantomime, Cinderella, at The Churchill, but he s definitely not the star of the show, writes Mark Campbell.

HOLLYWOOD legend" Steve Guttenberg heads this year's pantomime, Cinderella, at The Churchill, but he's definitely not the star of the show, writes Mark Campbell.

That role goes to ex-Pontins bluecoat Tucker (a single-name star in the making) as Buttons.

A cheeky funnyman who deserves - and gets - the full sympathy of the audience with his unrequited love for Cinderella, his "Hiya gang!" antics are fun for kids and adults alike.

A highpoint is his scarily good Elvis routine, culminating in a hilarious love song as a toy dog makes the most of his right leg.

Cinderella is played by Laura Hamilton (off the Nickelodeon channel) who gets top marks in the looks department and has a pleasant singing voice too.

Sadly, Prince Charming is no longer played by a girl, so no hearty thigh-slapping here, but Mark Evans has the chiselled features of a matinee idol and a voice strong enough to carry off the soul-searching romantic numbers with aplomb.

As Dandini, Kirk Barker is a likeably tousle-haired sidekick every bit as attractive to the female contingent in the audience as his good-looking boss.

Baron Hardup is Steve Guttenberg, who plays himself. A jolly presence, he contributes little to proceedings but at least seems to be having a good time. (Whether anyone under 20 knows who is, is another matter. My 15-year-old daughter certainly didn't.)

The Ugly Sisters - inexplicably changed to cousins here - are played with lip-smacking relish by David Langham and John Barr. Genuinely grotesque, they resemble cartoon figures brought to life - one a wafer-thin beanpole with an enormous nose, the other a tongue-waggling troll reminiscent of the Chief Blue Meanie from Yellow Submarine.

They are truly nightmarish - just as they should be.

Helen Lederer plays the Fairy Godmother, her talents as a comedienne rather straitjacketed by having to recount the familiar story in stilted verse.

Despite the lack of a proper villain and his "comic henchmen" - perhaps the credit crunch is to blame? - this is a slick affair directed with precision by Derek Nicholls and accompanied by enthusiastic musical direction from Dominic Haslam and his orchestra.


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