28th January 2017
The Assembly Rooms, Bolsover
Type of Production
Leanne Collins, Mick Whitehouse
Author: Joyce Handbury
Just a few days before the start of the show Musical Director, Nigel Turner, unfortunately broke his leg. A double blow was that he was also the keyboard player for the show, but, in true tradition of ‘the show must go on’ it did indeed, using taped music and a percussionist. This extremely funny and witty script by Alan P. Frayn stayed true to the traditional storyline of Cinderella with the addition of two builders who have come to re-develop Hardship Hall and a pantomime horse! The Fairy Godmother, delightfully played by Michelle Shaw, set the scene for us and the stage was suddenly filled with the sixteen members of the adult chorus and twenty eight children from the Youth section. It is a very small stage and with this number of people you would think that any movement/dance routines would be somewhat restricted but, whilst the choreography was simple, all the big chorus numbers including the opening number were well directed, well rehearsed and so enthusiastically performed by everyone including, I might add, some very young children who didn’t miss a step, a hand movement, a twist or a turn. In her first lead role with the group, Leanne Holloway in every way was ideally suited to the role of Cinderella, although she was rather quietly spoken. Dale Shaw was excellent as Buttons. He was so naturally endearing, so bright and breezy and quickly built up a super rapport with the audience. Lyndsey Ashley was convincingly charming as the Prince and Glenn Turner was an extremely ‘camp’ Dandini, his servant. The two Ugly Sisters were brilliant. Chris Peck as Gertrude and Paul Holland as Grizelda were an absolute hoot – a great pairing. Their many antics from frolicking in the forest on ‘hobby horses’ to a mischievously scary bedroom scene and a kitchen scene in the style of ‘Bake Off’ were all hilarious. They too had a marvellous rapport with the audience and I loved their banter and the running gag Grizelda had with ‘Eric’, an unfortunately co-opted member of the audience, which was just priceless. Another good pairing was that of Louise Sutton and Julie Clifford as the two builders Bodgett and Legget. They were really funny and excelled in the delivery of some very witty lines. Donna Knowles was splendid as the wicked stepmother, Baroness Hatty Hardup as was Derrick Hulett as her long suffering husband, Baron Horace Hardup. Special mention must go to the frisky capers of the ‘horse’ in the guise of Keyleigh Constable and Tara Foster and good support came from Ray Wignall as Chambers. The ‘transformation’ scene, where Cinderella is made ready for the ball and a pumpkin is turned into a coach, was extremely innovative. It was all achieved by the use of ultraviolet lighting and was so wonderfully effective. I was very impressed by the sets, especially the artwork, and together with good props, excellent costumes and lighting, a terrific principal line-up and an exuberant chorus made this a super show. They certainly ‘Reached for the Stars’ and I definitely came out ‘Walking on Sunshine’ – oh yes I did!!