Date 29th March 2022
Society 4Sixteen Theatre Company
Venue Castle Newnham School, Bedford
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Emily Allen
Musical Director Phil Smith
Choreographer Molly McCarthy
Written By Tara Hutchings


Author: Richard Fitt

So, back to Castle Newnham’s superb studio theatre for the second time in less than a month, this time to see the primary pupils (Years 3&4) perform in 4SIXTEEN Theatre Company's pantomime, Cinderella, delayed from December because of the Covid regulations. They are nothing if not determined!

This was, as all the best pantos seem to be nowadays, a rather witty home-grown script being written by Resident Director Tara Hutchings. The set was simplicity itself being a bare floor with a tiered rostra to the rear, with the principals’ entrances to the rear of the stage and the very large chorus (totalling thirty-seven) from the front to either side of the stage. No other furniture and very few props were needed. A wise but effective decision considering the number of bodies that took to the stage for the chorus numbers

I found the sound by Emily Green a lot easier this time, greater clarity and not so loud. Maybe my ears are becoming attuned. Musical Director Phil Smith got the balance with the chorus singing just about spot on.

The excellent lighting was once again designed by a pupil fast becoming a familiar name, Ben Cronin from year 9, obviously a talent with a bright future in that discipline. I suspect we will see a lot more of his lighting designs around the district in the years to come.

Director Emily Allen assembled a well drilled and enthusiastic cast that was a delight to watch. We started off with the three Narrators, Tilly Fisher, Thea Gammon and Harry Trewby perching themselves on the rostra confidently introducing the story to us. These three had a confidence and  cheeky delivery style which immediately warmed the audience and brought smiles to our faces. If I may offer a little piece of advice, slow the delivery down a little and let the audience enjoy the moments between Tara Hutchings' rather excellent jokes a little more. But these three were certainly the glue that held the show together. Excellent job!

Our heroine, the downtrodden Cinderella was played with great confidence by Ambika Hughes going from downtrodden sister to confident suitor.

The best parts to play in any panto are always the baddies, as Florence Green as Cinders’ Evil Stepmother and Stepsisters, Violent Copland and Polly Marston knew all too well as they relished extracting every boo out of us. Great fun!

Definitely someone to keep an eye on for the future is Lyra Hickman-Beagent whose confidence and comic timing in playing the Fairy Godmother was very measured and highly impressive.

James Leask as Prince Dashing was suitably regal and amusingly pompous as he sent his servant Dandini (Oscar Sun) off in search of Cinder’s lost shoe. 

The ensemble of thirty-seven, went on and off the stage with well drilled precision, and they needed to, thirty-seven on a stage that size plus principals is a lot of bodies but having got them there we treated to some great singing and dancing, carefully choreographed by Molly McCarthy to fit the space provided. What I didn’t know at the time was that, because as the Primary pupils are based on a different site the panto was rehearsed in a school hall and only transferred to this studio stage on the Polehill Avenue site for rehearsal the day before the public performances. Therefore apart from that rehearsal time, this was the first time they had performed on this stage, which makes it all the more impressive. So well done one and all:

Theo Bingham-Walker, Grace Breen, Ginevra Cassini, Mia Challis, Monroe Day Downie, Ava Dymond, Jake Gammon, Abigail Glavin, Olivia Greene, Ariana Grigaliunaite, Chloe Gurycz, Josh Gurycz, Lucille Habershon, Esme Higgins, Beatrice Holloway-Hayes, Erin Horgan, Pearl Kerin, Elsie Lebrecht, Isabell O’Bryne Clement Oliver, Olive Pyecroft, Elana Regueira-Howe, Grace Rodgers, Izzy Ruff, Skye Saddington, Noah Smyth, Arthur Staples, Poppy Stray, Sophie Tang, Elvie Thatcher, Jack Thomas, Alexander Walker, Freddie Williams, Lyla Wosahlo, Sophia Vidinaru, Elsa Garvi-Gorringe, Freddie Sutton.

The great pleasure and privilege of visiting 4Sixteen productions is being able to watch the development of their young performers over the years. Some, during the time I have been visiting have become well-crafted performing artists and I have no doubt some from this generations will follow suit, but most importantly from what I observe everybody is giving their all and most important of all they are having fun doing it.  Great job 4Sixteen, keep it up!