Fashion. A Cinderella Story.

Date 2nd February 2024
Society Felton & Thirston Panto Society
Venue Felton Village Hall
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Felicity Andrews
Musical Director Alan Ramsbottom
Written By Chris Jones


Author: Sue Wood

This was my first visit to see a pantomime performed by Felton and Thirston Pantomime Society. The title of the performance Fashion. A Cinderella Story written by Chris Jones tells the tale of intrigue and design in the world of fashion and dress design. Ella Hard-Up (Julia Butlin) is running her own successful fashion house. The success of Ella cannot be tolerated by Donatella Tucci (Felicity Andrews) and so Donatella wants to get her hands on Ella’s company in order to expand her own fashion empire.

Donatella is married to Ella’s father Baron Hard-Up (Dave Francis) and his body language well portrayed that of a dominated, meek man with little to say. A costume and make-up portraying him as a Barron would have elevated his role in the performance.

Ella plays her role as a talented seamstress, sweet and unassuming in contrast to Donatella who is loud, very loud, belittling toward Ella and self-important. The contrast of the two characters could not have been greater and both performed musical solos in keeping with their roles. I particularly enjoyed the duet of Jessie J's famous hit Price Tag. Pantomime tradition was maintained with the baddie and the goody and the booing and hissing from the audience.

Prince Charmani (Sue Fowler) took the role of the goodie and came to the rescue of Ella. A love story with a happy ending.  I also particularly liked the take-off of Zandra Rhodes (Helen Andrews) in the second act. The "look alike" character created on stage was convincingly real and she played the role with significance and confidence as a fashion designer should, pink hair and all!

Praise has to go to King Rat (Teddy Taylor) who had the mannerisms of a rat mastered. His nose twitched and his paw movements were convincing. He was word perfect and confident in his summing up of the story in the second act and in the song Take me home. Well done, Teddy. The waiter, Matthew Taylor was very smart in his white shirt and bow tie and certainly looked the part.

The models in the House of Ella were played by Lexie Fowler, Katie Plunkett, Grace Milligan and Jessica Plunkett. They adopted their role as models and strutted the cat walk with confidence and self-importance as a model should. They looked beautiful and they delivered their lines eloquently. Well done to all of you.  Jan Archbold in her role of Marjorie was very funny and delivered her punchlines bang on cue. She was a real comic and made the audience laugh. Her costume and make up were befitting of pantomime.

The pantomime Dame was the writer of the script Chris Jones and he played the role of Donatella’s pampered daughter Ruby. His costume change behind a screen to the music of The Stripper raised audience expectations and we will say very little about his “bum.” A good performance Chris.

A special word must go to Shar Cannon who was ZIP and stood into the role at the last minute due to sickness. You did a brilliant job Shar and your rendition of Goodbye Ruby Tuesday modified to Goodbye Ruby Tucci was one of the best vocals of the night.

The local banter referring to Martin Lewis, Primark, the middle aisle of Lidl and the Post Office scandal were all welcomed by the audience as was the dressing up of two brave members of the audience. The mention of the Bunty Comic and dressing up the cut-out figures brought back fond childhood memories to me and others in the audience.

Felton and Thirston Pantomime Society have a team of backstage helpers who have enabled this show to be a success for the local community. The community spirit was evident in the hall where clearly the performers were well known family members and friends. This local touch should in no way underestimate the magnificent teamwork that delivers such an enjoyable evening’s entertainment. 

Well done and thankyou to everyone involved for such a warm welcome and a thoroughly enjoyable night. Look forward to next time.