Cinderella

Date 5th January 2022
Society Theatrecraft
Venue The Kings Hall, Herne Bay
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Kes Hewett
Musical Director Jacqueline Francis
Choreographer Courtney Jones

Report

Author: Cheryl Marksford

With so many pantomimes around at this time of the year it's always difficult to make yours feel fresh and interesting. However, Theatrecraft managed just that with modern music, colourful settings, and some brilliantly danced routines. Choreographer Courtney Jones succeeded in organising two different dance teams, as well as the ensemble and principals, all into one production with some original yet appropriate choreography. Not an easy job.

I liked the set pieces in this version of Cinderella (and I know them well, having performed as Dandini in it myself) as well as the extra addition of a dancing pantomime horse. There was a good slapstick scene in the kitchen, but it was over too quickly, and needed to be more over the top than it was. The ‘transformation’ scene, where Cinderella is made ready for the ball and a pumpkin is turned into a coach, was extremely innovative and cleverly executed. It makes a change to do the whole transformation without a “stunt” Cinderella

The cast were all good in their roles and they all tried to wring as much comedy out of the script as possible. Chloe Hedger, as the titular character, gave an assured and confident performance. She really acted the part of a naive young lady, bringing out all the trusting, innocent, childlike quality of the character. Her singing voice was lovely.

New-comer Robert Dunk, did a smashing job of portraying Buttons, Cinderella’s sidekick, and managed to get the audience on his side from the very beginning. His antics encouraged enthusiastic participation from the audience, both young and old. He is one to watch in the future. Both Heather Kemp and Chris Perkins worked well together as Bodget and Leggett – the story’s token numbskulls, getting laughs where needed and bouncing off each other well. I would have loved to have seen even more physical clowning from this comedy duo though as every pantomime audience appreciates a healthy dose of slapstick.

Prince Charming and Dandini were very well matched. Jay Kitto and Cara Townson respectively played their roles with a wonderful air of pageantry without coming across as too aloof. They made a talented team portraying their roles with confidence and professionalism. Cara even signed one of the musical numbers during the show which was utterly joyous. More of that in the future please.

The two Ugly Sisters were brilliant. Joe Morgan as Gertrude and Norman Holness as Grizelda were an absolute hoot – a great pairing. Their many antics including frolicking in the forest on ‘hobby horses’ were all hilarious. They too had a marvellous rapport with the audience, and I loved their banter and the running gag Grizelda had with ‘Mike,’ an unfortunately co-opted member of the audience, which was just priceless. Kes Hewett was assured as the wicked stepmother, Baroness Hardup (coming to the role at the last minute) as was Stuart Rogers as her long-suffering husband, Baron Hardup.

There were solid performances from all the cast and just because they may not have been individually mentioned does, by no means belittle the importance they played. This production was well executed and enjoyable and that was only possible because of every single cast member’s effort.

I think the whole show had been well rehearsed. The set, with added animated projections, helped to enhance the telling of the story along with some beautiful lighting design by Mick Bennell and creative stage effects. Everything was underpinned by great song choices and an impressive live band under the poised direction of Jacqueline Francis. The costumes, make-up and wigs were all fabulous.

I left the evening feeling full of pantomime spirit. I can’t wait to see what you present in the future.