Date 20th January 2022
Society Northallerton Amateur Variety Company
Venue The Forum, Northallerton
Type of Production Pantomime
Director James Cornick
Musical Director Maeve Hird
Choreographer Jasmine Smith


Author: John Holliday

So thankfully with all of the postponements and cancellations “behind them” it was time for NAVC to return to the Forum for their annual charity pantomime, and boy did they come back with a bang with the all-time favourite Cinderella.

So often we see groups playing around with the concept of a Panto and putting their own twist on it and whilst this is fun you really can’t beat the original concept and all the traditional routines and gags.

Under the clever direction of James Cornick the cast did a fab job of keeping the show moving along at a good pace, scene changes never delayed the flow with a good use of a gauze and the action continuing at the front of the stage.

After a short overture of Come Follow The Band, the show opened with a lively village scene with Cinderella and the villagers which mostly consisted of a Junior Chorus and a few adults doubling up from named roles. The lively routines were well choreographed by Jasmine Smith and were all really well in sync with each other showing a great rehearsal commitment. The Juniors were lively and well used throughout the show although at times I would have liked to have heard them a bit more as they got lost under the orchestra in some of the bigger numbers.

With lots of bangs and glitter, Chloe Rendall appeared as the Fairy Godmother to set the scene, her rhyming interludes were slick and her disguise later on in the show was so effective it even had the audience booing her.

Ruth Asquith took on the principal role of Cinderella and did a fab job, some lovely vocals and she maintained the straight character brilliantly when surrounded by complete chaos from the rest of the cast, this is not an easy job so well-done Ruth. Playing opposite Ruth was Fiona Cameron as Prince Charming, more than ably assisted by Amy Clarkson as Dandini, the two of them kept the story moving and the love story was really heart warming especially with their gorgeous duet of From This Moment allowing them both to show off their great vocal ability. I hope Dandini managed a good shower after being manhandled by the Ugly Sisters!

Alongside Cinderella was our hopeless romantic yet genius comic in Nigel Thomsen playing Buttons. Nigel worked the audience so well; great comic timing, a sharpness to adlib at ease with the cast and audience and amazing facial expressions and reactions. Every Pantomime needs a good Buttons and after this performance every amateur society needs a Nigel. I hope every “I am the music man” routine was as fun as the night we saw the show.

Alongside a Buttons every pantomime needs a good pair of ugly sisters and at Northallerton we were treated to a brilliant duo. They bounced off each other with great chemistry and with such different characteristics. Nick Browne as Grizelda could have just turned up from a building site whereas Keith Burns as Gertrude surely needs a place on the next series of Ru Paul’s drag Race.  The kitchen sketch between Grizelda and Buttons was hilarious and brought the house down, and with the water flying all over the place I hope they had a good quality electrician on hand.

Trying to help them snare their man was Emma Browne as the Baroness, a fierce woman who clearly had a strong grip on her husband, The baron, played by Lewis Wilde. I loved her version of Big Spender, although like a number of the songs I would have preferred a bit more of the song..

Carrying out additional comedy roles were Will Jackson and Kimi Chapman playing Bodget and Leggitt with some great visual comedy routines, Hagan the Pantomime Horse was brilliant and the disguised Adele McNally and Phil Bargewell gave us my 1st ever tap dancing horse with some lovely routines.

So… The slipper found its rightful owner, the Ugly Sisters got their deserved punishment and Buttons finally got to have a rest and breathe….

With great costumes, a simple yet effective set, a live band very well led by Maeve Hird and a packed house it was brilliant to be back in Panto-land.

Thank you Northallerton for a hilarious evening, my sides were hurting from laughter by the end and I can not wait to see what next January brings.