Review – Terry Reeve – Beccles and Bungay Journal – Jan 2009
Younger generation are in form for old favourite
When The Loddon Players were formed 32 years ago, in 1976, Cinderella was the first pantomime they staged. Now they are staging what is many people’s favourite fairy-tale for the fourth time – and it is as fresh as ever.
Some of the old stagers are still there lending their experience, none more so than Maureen Larkin and Anthony Bunting as Matilda and Bert. They are as funny as ever – they know every trick in the book to get a laugh and use their wiles to the full, with great timing, to the delight of the audience.
But it’s also clear that the younger generation of players are coming through alongside them, to make their presence felt and stand the group in good stead for the future. As the programme notes say, the average age of the large cast is 30 – much lower than it has been for a long time, with eight young ladies aged 13 to 17 turning up for auditions. In all twelve teenagers are in the cast.
They are all proving their worth, to help provide that freshness and enduring appeal in a great community show full of fun, local clips and good music.
All the youngsters have been accommodated, with some alternating in the role, and that is the case with Cinderella played by Emily Johnson or on Saturday when I saw it, Emily Buchan. The latter acted and sang with great expression, an admirable choice for the part. She worked well alongside Lizzie Burgess, alternating with Claire Mudge, as Prince Charming. Between them they brought out all the pathos, goodness and ultimate happiness of the story.
As Dandini, Yvonne Reynolds (Alice Bush on other nights), also looked good and acted with confidence, while as the Ugly Sisters, Letitia and Petal, played on Saturday by Matthew Moore and Ian Fulcher, entered into the roles with spirit and zest, to the great enjoyment of the audience. They’re alternating the roles with Mike Catling and Luke Jermy.
Carolyn Dover turns in an impressive performance as their mother, the Baroness, while Howard Dover, as Buttons, gets just the right balance to his caring role as Cinder’s minder.
Naomi Sadler is the Fairy Godmother and her scenes were well managed.
Also deserving praise are the young men in the cast – Tom Olive as the Lord Chamberlain and Daniel Bird (grandson of Jill Carpenter, Cinderella in the very first pantomime) as the king.
Pauline Mason and Graham Orpet are those inside the lively horse, and the cast is completed by Steve Burton as the Baron, Lucy Bown, as Abigail and Jasmine Frosdick as the Page.
And what about the Funky Feet dancers! They are terrific in their innovative and creative routines, all thoroughly rehearsed. They get the show off to an uplifting start and the later hunting scene, particularly with the dancers, as riders, hound’s and quarry, providing an original and well appreciated spectacle.
Once again sets and costumes add to the quality of the show, produced by Joan Evans and Anthony Bunting. This one must be up there with the best of them over the 32 years.
The final performances are this evening and tomorrow.