Date 6th December 2019
Society Fairbourne Dodders Drama Group
Venue Dodford Village Hall
Type of Production Pantomime
Director David Goode
Musical Director Ben Thompson
Choreographer Lisa Pendlebury, Clementine Kear and Phil Stuart


Author: Andy Brown

It was on 11 December 1980 when The Fairbourne Dodders presented their first pantomime – Cinderella. Wind forward to December 2019 and it is pantomime number forty. What could be more appropriate therefore than a production of Cinderella. The 1980 production was produced by David Goode. Therefore, who better to direct this production.

This was however my first time at Fairbourne Dodders and to my knowledge the first time NODA have attended any show for many years.

The village hall was not only decorated for Christmas, but both the sweet stall and bar were named in line with the show. The proscenium arch reminded us of the title of the pantomime and down stage left and right was some good quality scenery set the scene for the show. Although unusual to mention the set first I will on this occasion. The quality of the artwork depicting scenes was excellent. A lovely ball room against the cyclorama, a super kitchen and Hard Up Hall with fireplace and paintings of the ugly sisters were first class. Well done to Clementine Kear and the team for these. In addition, there was a super coach for Cinderella to be transported to the ball – built I understand by the actor who played Buttons – ahh – he really did care!!

The script was written locally and known to me from a few years ago. A traditional, family orientated script with all the usual ingredients of traditional pantomime.

The ugly sisters Scott Broadfield as Laetitia and Chris Hinchley as Lil were perfect in their interpretation of the characters. Each had a different personality which worked. They made the most of the parts with a great rapport and support for each other as glamorous dames with a range of outfits.  Although mean to Cinderella this was kept at an appropriate level to prevent this becoming abusive.

A favourite with the audience was Phil Stuart as Buttons. He had a good sense of both fun and charm and built an immediate relationship with the audience who were on his side throughout.

This performance remained traditional regarding the gender of principle boy and girl and in this performance having females for both roles worked. Clementine Kear was the sweet, innocent Cinderella while Harriet Crump played a suitably regal Prince Charming alongside his/her loyal servant Dandini played by Sharon Cartwright. 

Knockabout comedy came from the ‘brokers men’ Chris Hall as Hit and James Cartwright as Run. The scene where they rehearsed ‘getting the money’ was well delivered as Run was able to knock and ring the bell of an imaginary front door. The removal of furniture, waiter scene and feet for soaking scenes were equally well done.

Angela Salmon although only in a couple of scenes brought out the magic of pantomime as the Fairy Godmother.

Good support was provided by Graham Morgan as Baron Hardup who made a good foil against the sisters and others along with Richard Nix as Major Domo. I must make special mention to Josh Dawson and George Bryan (sorry don’t know which way around you were) as the pantomime horse. Their dance was good and appreciated by the audience. An understated element of panto but well done to you both.

My understanding is previous year’s cast have sung to backing tracks. This year actors performed to live music. The company numbers were good while individual songs were well selected. It was no surprise in the choice of the song for the two dames!

Costumes are a vital aspect of pantomime and should always be given attention and be the best the budget will allow. The costumes sourced for this production were of high quality and many would have not looked out of place in a large professional production. Equally good standard were the wigs such as those worn by the dames. I was pleased to see appropriate footwear worn by the cast as a whole.

The choreography was simple but effective for the show and in line with the limitations of the venue. The adults in the ensemble but especially the children as animals and creatures as well as courtiers and village folk did well taking these considerations into account.

The clear limitations of the stage were well worked round with effective use of a single front cloth. Set changes behind this were swift to ensure the action flowed. The cast took in their stride a slight technical hitch with the cloth at the start of the walk down.

The script went rather astray from time to time however when this happened the cast picked the line up and carried on. The audience was responsive with occasional loud comments to some cast members. The cast managed these well and at times gave as good as they got!

My first visit but hopefully not my last to Fairbourne Dodders.

Well done on an enjoyable evening of entertainment.