12 December 2011
It’s that time of year again – trees are sprouting up in living rooms and house fronts are looking like Blackpool seafront, without the sea…So obviously it’s time for guys to don false boobs and preposterous wigs, dust off the corny old jokes and try out a few new topical ones…Yep, it’s Panto season. I would venture to suggest that no Christmas is complete without a visit to the Panto. My Other Half would be inclined to disagree, and on Saturday I dragged along my none-too-enthusiastic thirteen year old, to see Cinderella at the People’s Theatre. I was not to be disappointed and the reluctant teenager seems to have been converted…Result!
Cinderella, written by Toby Cooper and directed by Sally Anne Cooper, has everything you would expect. The singing and dancing, the jokes – those that make you chuckle and groan, and the ones that make you laugh out loud; the dames, the baddies (boo hiss!), the magic!
The cast performed with enthusiasm, and obvious enjoyment. The story is told by The Fairy Godmother (Kath Frazer), aided and abetted in her magical endeavours by the very cute Christmas fairies. Lyndsey Fenn plays an endearing Cinderella, and sings her heart out, while Bryan Watson provides a suitably square-jawed, handsome prince. Their duet medley of love songs earned praise from the reluctant teenager – for both the choice of songs and the seamless transition from one song to the next. Good choices, well sung, one of the best parts of the show (he said, and I would have to agree). The Ugly Sisters (Keith Wigham and Kevin Gibson) were, frankly, ugly! Scheming and conniving, in an array of ridiculous costumes, to steal the baron’s money and keep Cinders away from the ball, and managing to get all the best laughs in the process. Dandini, the prince’s manservant, played by Moira Valentine, provided the perfect glamorous foil to the sisters’ bad taste.
But, as we all know, the star of any production of Cinderella is Buttons and Tayler McCullough certainly stepped up! He had the audience on board pretty much from the start, encouraging our participation with his cheeky grin and silly jokes. We didn’t miss a single call of “Hi-ya Buttons!” and oh, our hearts broke for him when he declared his love for Cinderella only to find that she had fallen for someone else!
There were, of course, some blips – a couple of cues missed, a bit of a costume change clanger, but they were slickly covered for and converted into laughs – and isn’t that all part of the fun?
I think the production team can be suitably proud that they have produced a pantomime that is great family entertainment: some fantastic music, and lovely dance routines (from Andrew Clarence and Laura Kelly respectively). Scene changes were quick and unobtrusive – with some pretty nifty scenery! Watch out for the forest scene – it was my favourite bit – who knew trees could be so interesting!
Cinderella runs till the 18th December. Everyone should see a pantomime at Christmas – make yours this one!