Cinders, the True Story

Performance Review (adapted from the December 2014 Newsletter) 

The 2014 pantomime was performed at the Jubilee Hall, Bierton on 27th-29th November, directed by Alf Rogers and written by David Tristram.

The story turned the traditional fairytale of Cinderella upside down and inside out. Characters included a Hairy (male) Godmother, and Prince Charming played also by a male. Not much thigh slapping there - a man's legs aren't usually as pretty as a girl's! In addition, we created a third ugly sister, and they were all played by girls, not the usual pantomime dames.

First night was not without its problems. As soon as the curtains opened, one of the backdrops slithered to the floor, and as the evening progressed several more followed. Shades of 'Crossroads', the 1960s tv soap opera!!! Well, it all adds to the fun! By the second night the blip had been sorted out and the scenery remained in place for the duration of the run.

Our evergreen Gordon Bishop opened the show all dressed in pink and lit up like a Christmas tree as the Hairy Godmother - no cuddly little grandma type in this production! He played his role with comic indecorum, speaking throughout in rhyme and wowing audiences as he has done for the past 60-odd years.

Cinderella was competently played, again somewhat differently from the traditional 'sweet little thing,' by newcomer Emily Patricia Westlake. Her ugly sisters, however, were still ugly. With clever make-up, the lovely Kelly Nicholas, Zyta Tunley-Stainton and Emma Tuohy were transformed! Their effervescence in song and snarly nastiness eventually convinced the audience of their malevolence.

Prince Charming was played by Josh Tyler, making his debut with the group, and doing very well indeed. He and Emily made a 'charming' leading couple who opposed the evil opposition with resolute goodwill - they deserved to live happily ever after!

Another new girl in the group, Sam Bullard, delightfully played the Prince's sidekick, Dandini.

Bob Taylor gave a suitably dotty depiction of the henpecked Baron Hardup, always being told to shut up, but eventually the worm turned and, oh, he really did make a speech, telling his lady wife just what he thought of her!

Christine Garvey, resplendent in purple flowing wig and cloak, delivered a strong, sinister and boo-inducing performance as the Baroness.

Following his magnificent debut with the Players in the hard-hitting World War One play The Accrington Pals back in the spring, Gareth Barton had audiences in the palm of his hand with a masterly and confident comic performance as Buttons. His rubber face, popping eyes, selfless love and puppy-dog innocence had audiences laughing and aahing in sympathy.

More newcomers in youngsters Rachel Bullard, Jessica Calcutt, Emma Manning, Charlotte Targell and Zoë Targell did well, prettily portraying villagers and providing chorus backing on many of the songs.

Bob Taylor put all his energy into If I Were a Rich Man, and Christine Garvey exuded evil with the Michael Jackson number Bad. Emily Patricia Westlake paired with Josh Tyler on Don't Go Breaking My Heart, and with Gareth Barton for an amusing rendition of Don't Stop Believin', while also cleverly choreographing both numbers.

The show ended with the entire cast all on stage twisting to the music of Chubby Checker, again choreographed by Emily.

Paul Styles came up with some interesting and amusing sound effects, and Andy Capjon very capably operated the spotlighting. Several cast members did their own make-up but Patti Reed competently took care of the rest. Yet another newcomer, Linda Wattley, was incredibly inventive with her superb costumes, adding colour and interest throughout. On opening night, with no one to operate the curtains, Chris Brown was 'roped' in to do it and found herself generally helping out backstage as well! On Friday and Saturday Hannah Rogers was there to take on curtain duties and also help backstage. We are grateful to June & Tony Bradshaw and Alan Curtis for tending Front of House, and to Ann Pollard for, with her usual efficiency, leading her team of Margaret Curtis, Anna Rogers, Mary Styles and Sue Taylor in dispensing refreshments during the intervals.

The charity chosen to benefit from the proceeds of this production was the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).