Review – Terry Rymer NODA Representative – Jan 2019
You will leave this small, intimate hall with the vision of a transformation scene that would grace any much larger, even professional, performance venue.
As act 1 draws to a close the delightful scene is set with a magnificent set of a magical flower bedecked coach, with younger dancers dressed as white unicorns, bathed in an illuminating and evocative lighting set, trotting majestically, as the beautiful Cinderella (Abby Harper-Bourne) is transported to the Ball… Her Fairy Godmother (Sarah Morris-Colman) waved her magic wand with style and with suitable pyrotechnics reveals this very memorable montage…you will then be hard pressed to remember the rest of this act..!
The first act needed more pace and lacked the usual excitement of a panto story which dragged its feet somewhat even the role exchange with Prince Charming and Dandini did not really hit the spot.
Buttons (Beth Rose-Waghorn) did her best to energise the story and express his love for Cinders and some audience rapport.
The Funky Feet Dancers provided some lively moments and with so much energy and movement, they were real stars.
The Ugly Sisters, Olga and Petunia (Howard Dover and Peter Samain) resplendent in their vulgar ‘couture’ costumes, were a fine pair if ever I saw one. They matched every inch their ‘ugly’ description working hard with some rather tired dialogue. Their fearsome mother the Baroness (Carolyn Dover) showed suitable sadistic tendencies to Cinderella and well deserved the boos she received at the finale!
The whole first act just needed to raise the temperature and engage the enthusiastic audience from the outset…several opportunities were missed where the audience would and should have been encouraged to deliver more of the time tested responses to situations…this can be a problem with ‘home written’ scripts which are only tested for the first time when they reach the stage and face a live audience! But the transformation scene saved the day!!
BUT never mind, an early interval, tea and ice creams served, and to quote a football adage, ‘this was a show of two halves’.
Suddenly more pace and the cast seem invigorated, as the story picks up the pace, the Ball is imminent and characters show that they are also refreshed…Prince Charming (Lauren Gray) and Dandini (Holly Pinder), back to their rightful personas, greet the assembled guests who are able to show some real comedic moments as Olga and Petunia show their lack of graceful ‘Royal’ etiquette and are seriously funny as they embarrass themselves in their attempt to attract the Prince, or a man, any man ! Until Cinderella resplendent in her Ball gown enters and steals the show! Other guests here were perhaps not used to their full potential, King (Graham Orpet) had more to give, and Queen (Sharon Sutton) was also somewhat overlooked.
The slipper trying on scene was well handled, and the return of Cinderella’s father (Graham Orpet again), showing his comedy timing, albeit for a few seconds!
The finale brought the whole cast together and the audience joined in with enthusiasm which I am sure will increase during next weeks shows. Don’t be shy, be big and confident, believe in yourselves, and the show will benefit. Maybe consider a more ‘tested’ panto script. But we WILL remember that transformation scene…it was brilliant!