Something cuddly and fluffy for Christmas: Buttons @KingsHeadThtr

It’s hard not to like a show where the central character is a man in a giant bear suit. And with great performances, gorgeous costumes and high production values, Buttons is fun and entertaining. This is Charles Court Opera’s self-described “boutique panto” and it’s currently playing at the Kings Head Theatre.

The show’s an eccentric yet panto-style reworking of the Cinderella story. Buttons centres around Cinderella’s teddy bear, Buttons. He’s is in love with Cinderella but as he’s a teddy bear it‘s all very platonic cuddly love. Until a fairy godfather visits Buttons and turns him into a man and things get interesting. And a little bit weird.

Meanwhile and evil Prince Charming is persuing Cinderella. He’s been knocking off various fictional characters to say young and charming and sees Cinderella as his next victim. And Cinderella’s mother is trying to pull a policeman who is investigating the death of various fairy tale characters.

Created by Charles Court Opera’s artistic director John Savournin with David Eaton, it’s a unique and inspired pantomime. Musical numbers reworked from familiar songs fit seamlessly into the story. The choice of music also allows the performers to show their comic, musical and operatic capabilities.

Matthew Kellett as the teddy-bear man Buttons is sweet and funny. Eleanor Sanderson-Nash as the slightly dim Cinderella is a delight. And Jamie Barwood as the pantomime dame Betty, Cinderella’s mum loomed large with his big voice and over the top costumes.

Check the listings as there’s a combination of adults only and family-friendly versions. Some cast members change on various nights. The version I saw was suitable for all ages. Although with the endless double entendres the mind boggles at what the adults only version covers. Still, it was a lot of fun watching children gasp at the thought of some of their favourite characters meet an unfortunate end at the evil prince’s hands.

Directed by John Savournin, Buttons, A Cinderella Story is irresistible and at the Kings Head Theatre until 5 January.


Photos by Bill Knight

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