Date 19th February 2015
Society Urmston Musical Theatre
Venue Urmston Leisure Centre
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Rik Gaffney
Musical Director Ed Nurse
Choreographer Emma Harris & Rebecca Cooper-Bagnall


Author: Kevin Proctor

This production was, unquestionably, the finest production I’ve seen by Urmston Musical Theatre.

The chorus were the most energised and alive I’ve seen them, they were clearly enjoying themselves which speaks volumes! We got some fresh blood on stage with some shaken up casting, the boosted energy levels of the cast (the chorus in particular) and a new driving force installed from an enthusiastic new director, Richard Gaffney, who had a clear vision for this production with the correct ingredients in place, the script had been injected with a fresh lease of life; it was modern, quick paced and packed to the brim with good gags and skits in all the right places all making Richards directorial debut one to be immensely proud of!
Where to go from here!? Think of some way to disguise those set changes, the audience were sat in silence and darkness whenever the set needed to be changed – an obvious solution would be for the band to cover the blackouts / set changes with playoffs rather than having them sat twiddling thumbs. Having the pause while we wait for the set to change only breaks the flow and pace of the show.

Matthew Darsley delivers Panto very well, his ‘Buttons’ had a terrific manner and flair, how he dealt with the audience (particularly when he got the kids up on stage to talk to) was smashing. His vocal ability and cheeky charm contributed to a lovely performance.

Cinderella was in the capable hands of Samantha Cooper-Bagnall who brought all the right qualities to the role – a splendid performance. Interestingly (and quite a brave decision) we had two ladies playing the ugly sisters – this, I thought, would take away the humour and gawky ridiculousness of the two characters and eliminate the much loved panto element of the show, but the duo did pull it off and certainly convinced me that the roles could be carried off by two females - they were both horrific and funny!

Sound is an area which should be addressed next, it seemed a waste to have six players in the band as all I could hear was keys 1 and the drums, the others may as well have stayed at home, it’s lovely to have the luxury of a Reed player for a panto but I didn’t hear a single note she played which was a little disappointing.

Yvonne Bissett presented the Fairy Godmother, a part which is so often portrayed in a number of different ways; this fairy had the lovingness and warmth for Cinderella with added glimpses of a….“here I am again, just another day at the office” approach which worked to avoid the role being, well…. ‘airy fairy’.

Great humour and presence was delivered from Dandini played by Rebecca Jones. Dandini is a role which can so often be forgotten and be left in the shadows of the other loftier characters but Rebecca made sure this would not be possible, the ‘Who’, ‘What’ and ‘I Don’t Know’ gag being a particular highlight.

The line-up of songs was a good collection with tunes selected to aid the telling of this tale from musicals, Disney and of course commercial pop.

We were treated to an attractive collection of costumes which was appreciated, good effort here from the Costume department. The UV scene was inventive as far as UV scenes go though I cannot deny it did expose a few flaws, I do appreciate it’s difficult to rehearse UV scenes properly until you get into the theatre, so I can forgive the odd hiccup.

Without a shadow of doubt I witnessed a turning point for Urmston Musical Theatre whilst watching this production, the standard of this show has revamped their presentation which is an impressive achievement and something to continue in order to keep the level and standard climbing!

Many congratulations!