The telegraph poles informed us that this year’s panto, produced by the Lympstone Players and directed by Shirley Wilkes and Terry Dowrick, was Cinderella.
As most people are very familiar with the fairytales used as panto plots, part of the fun of seeing any show is the anticipation of the treatment given to the story. This year’s production was a youthful, modern musical with no cross-dressing in sight. The regular members gave excellent performances and the newcomers displayed a wealth of hidden talent.
Julia Billington gave a confident, relaxed performance as the Fairy Godmother and her troupe of little fairies shone with admiration and sincerity. The singing of Sophie Borrie as Cinderella was lovely and Emily Barnacle charmed as Pussycat, while Bruce Ellis, as Buttons, ad libbed to the delight of the audience. Grace Packman and Heather Redding were suitably indigestible as the ‘Uglies’, well beyond the control of their wicked mother played by Mary Blair.
A very regal portrayal of the King and Queen was given by Ron Smith and Sybil Bexter, and I can’t imagine who Joel Teague used as his model for Prince Charl…I mean Charming! Ben Redding was a brilliant spiv of a Dandini and Chris Barnacle played Squire Hugo with just the right accent and mannerisms.
Every now and again a group of displaced mice sporting an eclectic mix of accents strayed on and off the stage. Cash and Carry (would-be heavies) played by Clive Wilson and Harland Walshaw brought the house down with their haplessness and high camp. The rest of the cast, playing girlfriends, village girls, shop assistants and Royal Marines gave solid supporting performances and Brian Mather’s ‘Mystery Voice’ had a palpable smile of enjoyment throughout.
The humour was consistently contemporary and full of local references, which is ‘de rigueur’. The accompaniment to the large number and range of songs was provided by Carol Tolson and band and Josh Stone and team lit the production using ‘moving heads’ and ‘gobos’ giving a modern feeling. Pat Boaden’s costume designs, produced with the help of Jill Gray, were stunning, coordinating beautifully with Deb Mitchell’s set, giving the whole a sense of lightness and spareness.
The whole performance’s smoothness was a tribute to the backstage crew led by Liz Gordon. They all worked exceedingly hard to produce props, shift scenery, call cues, provide make up, organize publicity and manage front of house. A brilliant team effort!