Review of the Show
Photos Link: https://photos.app.goo.gl/hvA5L6ezg5Q7hj877
I take great comfort in the fact that some things never change: many, many years ago – you really don’t want to know just how long, but I was only 11 or 12 at the time – a friend’s sister was in a pantomime at her school, and we went along to see it. I can’t remember which panto it was; in fact I can remember only one thing about it, which was that they sang ‘If I Were Not In Pantomime’. I loved it then and tonight, when Buttons, Prince Charming and Dandini gave us their own manic take on the song, I sat there with a silly grin on my face, loving it all over again.
To be fair, I sat there with a silly grin on my face throughout the whole evening, and I do apologise to the elderly couple in front of me who seemed rather stunned when I joined in the audience responses with such gusto. Well, you have to, don’t you?
Panto needs to tick all the right boxes to be a success, and without a doubt this one certainly does. Pantomime expert extraordinaire Lee Redwood has written the story, which sticks pretty much to the traditional tale we all know and love but has its own unique touches, and director Sarah Haberfield has done a great job with her cast. Lee is also musical director, so the singing, and the songs too, are very impressive.
Debbie Crowton is absolutely glorious as a north country Fairy Godmother; she has a lovely rapport with the audience and the confidence not to be fazed when something doesn’t quite go according to plan – I understand that at the dress rehearsal the smoke machine worked so well that the cast could barely see each other at one point, but I think nerves got the better of it on the first night and the smoke was loathe to make an appearance at all.
There always have to be baddies, of course, and the characters played so well by Jo Mansfield (Baroness Hardup), Chris March (Lavinia) and Martin Mansfield (Lucinda) definitely tick that box, taking great pleasure in being absolutely vile to everyone around them, not least to poor Baron Hardup (Nick Squires) and his sweet daughter Cinderella.
Despite her youth, Hermione Mason has been making quite an impression on the local musical theatre scene over the past few years, and she is the perfect Cinderella: pretty, wistful and with the most glorious singing voice. Her Prince Charming, Shannon Fisher, is equally talented and together they make a really delightful pair, their voices blending beautifully.
Another young person who always gives a first-rate performance, and who has the audience in the palm of his hand, is Jack Haberfield. He is a truly wonderful Buttons in every way and there is a lovely, genuine-seeming chemistry between his character and that of Cinderella which at times is really moving.
Sorcha Fisher, making her pantomime debut, is a fine Dandini and Martin Pitman also makes a great impression as Broker’s man Bodgit. And where would panto be without the chorus? Whether adult or child, those in this show are, to a person, smiling and confident.
Finally, those all-important touches like costumes and sets are absolutely super, and the gorgeous coach in which Cinderella goes to the ball is just beautiful.
Linda Kirkman – Scene One