29th November 2017
Type of Production
Author: Kevin Proctor
Panto has many boxes to tick and PADOS clearly understood the formula with this production of Cinderella.
I’m happy to report that I’m seeing more and more amateur pantos taking risks with how far they’re pushing the innuendos to include those 'adult' jokes which (we’d hope would) fly over the heads of the kids, seeing pro pantos I’m always surprised at just how much they can get away with and I’m glad that PADOS understand that Panto’s are not just for kids with the team evidently enjoying ‘pushing it’ to see how far they can actually go, keep going, you’re not in the danger zone yet if this year’s Opera House panto is anything to go by!
This was a slick presentation which kept moving with a good energy and thankfully the emphasis didn’t play too heavy on telling the fairy-tale aspect which can get a little monotonous for us big kids. This script wasn’t as over indulgent in the storybook fairy-tale aspect as many others which allowed for more gags, songs and skits without bumping up the running time too much.
Charlie Lewis portrayed the title character who I found to be completely refreshing thanks to her slightly edgy and up-to-date interpretation of the character, much more favourable than the overly sickly-sweet impression we’re probably more used to which made her all the more endearing.
The prince, played by David Livesey, was a hammy suave imperial comic which again was an angle that’s not so common but revitalising in its portrayal. I was also appreciative of the rock ballad as their love duet as apposed to the more common soppy slowy.
Making a mighty impression were Jack Forrest and Simon Fletcher, these two bounced off each other as the appropriately vulgar stepsisters, they each knew how to judge and work the audience like two masters and offered the perfect balance of ill repute, hilarity and wickedness.
A regular on the PADOS panto stage is Debbie Lewis who this time supplied us with her rendition of the Fairy Godmother. This wasn’t the glamorous, gasp in awe at her presence portrayal but a comedic hopeless student fairy who’s yet to earn her title which is a slant to the character which did appeal more to Debbie’s unpretentious charm.
On this stage at the PADOS Studio Theatre you’d be right to expect a small-ish supporting ensemble and you’d be correct, however, they were certainly kept busy. They excelled in their cameo/feature roles but didn’t quite have the attack and vigour as an all singing all dancing troupe.
Buttons was as energised and as adorable as you’d expect thanks to Amanda Ernest’s intrepid performance, of course panto is notorious for gender swopping many of its characters – it’s part of the fun – but something just didn’t click with me having Buttons being played by a female despite portraying her character as a male something about it just didn’t work which is nothing to do with Amanda’s performance, she’s a superb comic and a favourite for PADOS pantos but there’s something about the character that requires a guy to portray it, maybe I’m just a traditionalist? The same rings true for the Prince and Dandini, if I had to choose a preference I’d opt for lads to take on these roles too, however, it's proven to work perfectly fine if they’re played by either sex though I do strongly deem that the two should both be of the same gender, there’s a sense of unbalance if one (The Prince) is male and the other (Dandini) is female, maybe it’s merely because they have to switch places as part of the plot?? …I’m not too sure, I appreciate that this is quite likely to be down to my own personal preference rather than some unwritten pantomime rule.
Kathryn Gorton offered a striking sendup as the villainess Baroness who was required to carry a lot of humour within her portrayal suggesting an undertone of fun allowing the role to soften to an agreeable air of playful malice rather than just the one-dimensional wicked stepmother.
Many congratulations, this was the strongest pantomime I’ve seen at PADOS to date, keep doing what you’re doing.