Review By Jamie Harris
Having directed the last two Playgoers pantomimes, it was a pleasure to be able to sit back and enjoy this season’s offering of “Cinderella.”
This year’s production has been produced by Stuart Spendlow, directed by Jerry Smith and Maureen Lill, with musical direction from Joel Browne. And believe me when I say the magic was certainly there.
We join Cinders on the day her father returns home having just taken a new wife.
Lifelong friend Buttons is there for her as she discovers that her new step-mother and step-sisters may not be as nice as she had hoped. But could her Prince Charming be just around the corner? Well...I think we all know the story however I am in not in the habit of spoiling things....well not too much anyway!
Firstly, let me compliment the sets. Expertly created by Bob Booth and team, they brilliantly transported us into the land of Stonybroke, from the delights of the courtyard of Hardship Hall, to the freaky forests, to the chaotic kitchen and to the Prince’s palace. Secondly, to the fabulous costumes by Shirley Berry, Elizabeth Rodger and Lesley Mitchell. Truly magnificent and certainly very grand, with particular mention to the Fairy Godmother’s attire, Cinderella’s gown and the very suave formal wear of the Prince and Dandini. And special mention also to the technical teams for creating some awe inspiring lighting and sound effects.
The cast consisted of all the stock characters we have come to know and love from a traditional Cinderella panto. The chamberlain was played comically by Rob Ruisling. The Baron was played well by Richard Moulds, the brokers men portrayed humorously by Keith Lines and David Fidler, the evil step-mother performed maniacally well by Susan Munro and a very accomplished performance of Dandini by Laura Kelly.
Buttons (Neil Warne) had an instant rapport with the audience, which made for a very touching performance when it came to interaction over whether Cinderella would ever be his.
Prince Charming (Chloe Rose) armed with her beautiful singing voice, really encapsulated the spirit of principal boy, even though her role wasn’t as large as one would hope, but that’s the script eh. And Fairy Godmother (Cheryl Taylor) really showed her years of experience in panto acting, with a very engaging portrayal as Cinderella’s saviour.
Now who have I missed out....Oh of course. You can’t have a production of Cinderella without the ugly sisters, and boy were we given ugly! I merely jest! The roles of Gertrude (Ruairidh Greig) and Grizelda (Jamie Smith) were played hilariously well. Pay particular attention to the bedroom scene! Perhaps a little too much ad-libbing took place leaving occasional moments of silence, but overall I commend two very well polished pantomime dames.
And of course Cinderella, played phenomenally well by Ellie Stocks, It has been a privilege to watch Ellie grow from a Von Trapp child in Sound of Music, to Tup Tim in King & I and now into what I can honestly say is a very accomplished, both physically and vocally, performance as panto lead. Watch this space is all I will say.
Many congratulations also to the chorus who, albeit small in number and too often placed at the sides or at the back,did a wonderful job in adding to the atmosphere of the show. Praise indeed also to Studio 2000, who were not seen as much as other years but every dance they performed was perfection and to be greatly applauded. And finally to the panto band who were expert in bringing the songs and music to life for all to enjoy.
I would say don’t delay book today however I am afraid to say tickets have all but sold out.
However, I would highly recommend getting your name onto a reserve list as if you get the chance, this is a pantomime treat not to be missed.
Cinderella runs from January 8 to 16.
Tickets are £9.50 for adults and £5 for under 18s. There are less than 30 seats left for the whole run so if you want some you’d better ring box office on 01507 600350 or try online at www.louthplaygoers.com