Date 2nd February 2024
Society Ribchester Amateur Theatrical Society
Venue Ribchester Village Hall
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Dave Procter
Musical Director Claire Davies
Choreographer Rebecca Soper
Written By Dave Proctor with Keith Flood


Author: Chris Hill

My guest and I joined a lively pantomime audience filing into the Tardis-like Ribchester Village Hall, eager to see the traditional Cinderella storyline delivered by the banks of the Ribble. We were in the safe hands of Dave Procter and Claire Davies and deliver it they certainly did!


The Overall Production


This was a confident lively production with a super mix of youth and experience in the cast, jokes for all ages, sparkling performances and a raft of local references.


Amazingly, the total ticket sales for the 8 performances meant total sales numbered  greater than 40% of the population of Ribchester! So it's clear that as well as an enthusiastic local following, this thriving society is deservedly attracting a lot of interest from further afield. Having seen the quality of another recent offering here - (“Toad Society” - I've still got my honorary membership!) - I can see certainly see why. This was another fine production.


Production Team


With the help of the experienced Keith Flood, director Dave Procter also wrote it, with Claire Davies producing and their assured handling married this experience with the infectious enthusiasm of cast and crew.

Good use was made of the small stage by set designer Jenny Berry and set constructors Jim Green & Tim Watts with lighting and sound reliably and ably provided by William Thomas and assisting back stage was Craig Jackson.

The costumes organiser Anne-Marie Caunce had a large team of helpers in Nicole Wilkinson, Kate Eveson,Deb Austwick, Barbara Bolton and Christine Dixon with help backstage from Anne Rogerson – and it showed, the costumes were outstanding and really added to the spectacle. Well done!

In the limited space Rebecca Soper's choreography was effective and appropriate and the props well fitted by Judy Mallam and Julie Hesketh -  a clever move integrating Buttons' transport into the plot then using it as the carriage – a problem neatly solved!

They do not lack for help at Ribchester with a back stage team comprising Simon Elcombe, Tim Watts, Jim Green, Jim Walker, Alan Tomlinson and Matt Bateman and this is great to see.

Finally, with a sizeable cast in a small space, RATS reinforced the chaperones by adding a chorus manager role filled by Viki Mason. Alongside chaperones Rebecca Parkinson, Nicole Watkinson, Tamsin Ives and Rachel Billington, thank you all for helping provide these young people with the chance to learn and grow in a safe environment. It gave the confidence which shone through in every scene.


This was a production which clearly has large numbers of the community happily pulling together to create. So well done everyone I am sure after parties in Ribchester are pretty lively!



The Cast


We started off with a unique little local addition to the Cinderella tale as the writers cleverly gave 2 young actors their chance to sparkle. We had a charming prequel scene with Tilly Hart (8) as young Cinderella and Sophia Watkinson Barnes (12) as young Buttons. Confidently played with clear loud diction and fine pace, hearts melted as they acted their hearts out and sang “You've got a Friend in Me” - 2 names to watch out for in the future – well done!

Next up was our Fairy godmother, knowingly played by Olivia Hart as a very locally-accented, down-to-earth fairy with a strong penchant for a double entendre. Breaking the fourth wall throughout, she had an excellent grip on the audience - and her wand!

Then we had Baron and Baroness Hardup played by the two Lisas, Lisa Riley and Lisa Lloyd respectively. The suitably over-the-top Baroness was roundly booed as our pantomime baddy and the very foolish Baron were both excellently played with great stage presence.


For our comedy duo/pantomime dames we had a pair of Rebeccas playing our pair of Sisters: Waynetta by Rebecca Soper and Semolina by Rebecca Bradshaw. And what a marvellous pair they were! They had the audience in stitches throughout, truly 2 raunchy Ugly Sisters for the Ages.

Superbly played, the actors timing and movement, complemented by great costumes and makeup led to scenes that will live long in the memory. The workout scene aided by clever use of props was hilariously more gin than gym and rarely has watching 2 people trying to stand up been so funny! I noted too how well their “It's Raining Men” number was lit.
Follow that they say, but how better than with Cinderella and Buttons meeting Prince Charming and his wing-man Dandini - very neatly played indeed by Florrie Billington (14), well done. Lynsey Brown gave a suitably bouncy Buttons who had the audience on her side from the start, great energy.


But what of our heroes? Though just 14, Finlay Hart really filled the role of Prince Charming with a very strong stage presence, working well with Cinderella – the trying on of the slipper and proposal being an especially well realised scene. I remember being 14 (just!) and would have rather faced lions than sing “Can't Take my Eyes off you” in a romantic stage duet to an older girl, but both played this straight and true, well done young man! Hannah Murray as Cinderella gave one of those underrated performances that actually underpins the success of a team and gives a platform for the youngest cast members to flourish. Fantastic job Hannah!


In our supporting cast Abigail Cronshaw's diction and timing were faultless as the postman in a well-worked invitation to the ball scene and she doubled as a bear – multi-talented! Our straight-backed King John Hart was served by a lively young threesome well played by Jay Mason, Willow Riley-Whetacroft and Scarlett Bateman who left us in no doubt of their role by singing “Hey Hey we're the Flunkies!” to the Monkees number. Happily joining in the merriment was Anne Rogerson as Lady Osbaldstone. The songs generally were were well chosen for the production, short and impactful.
As well as allowing some quick jokes, announcements at the ball became a well-written opportunity for cameo roles for younger RATS enabling time in the spotlight and useful on stage experience for, among others, Florence Bradshaw who timed her jokes well as Town Clerk and Faith Mason delightfully helping the Fairy Godmother. Good diction and pace was maintained throughout, a great team effort well done all!


The audience went off into the Ribchester evening having happily immersed themselves in an entertaining inclusive pantomime from this admirable group that is right at the heart of Ribchester's community.

David & Claire had hoped in the programme to send us away singing one of the songs and my guest did exactly that!

I'd like to thank RATS for their warm welcome and wish them every success in their future ventures – the promenade play in July looks an especially intriguing prospect!