Panto sometimes gets a bad rap – at best silly stories for kids, at worst a lazy cash cow for theatres and fading celebs. But done well it can bring together comedy, music, dance, in a single entertaining package.
This year’s version of Cinderella at Bungay’s Fisher Theatre is done very well indeed: this is a sparkling show with boundless energy, a great script, and sharp performances.
Gillian Dean opens the show as Fairy G and shines throughout, both as the magical deus ex machina and her nemesis, Cinder’s evil step mother Lady Candida.
Kimberly Mason is a winning Cinderella, enthusiastic without being glib and in good voice from the first number on. Ivan Wilkinson is worked hard as Buttons, successfully carrying many of the comedy lines, and adding some nice improvisation of his own.
AJ Deane and Leighton Melville are a delight as ugly sisters Germaline and Vaseline, stomping and pouting around in best panto tradition, with Leighton’s temper tantrum a highlight of the show.
The compact cast is completed by Brian Wood as Prince Charming, who makes the most of his macho character while keeping his tongue firmly in his cheek.
Director Hayley Evenett’s script is full of traditional panto nonsense while also subtly adjusting for modern sensibilities. There’s a broad range of musical numbers from Taylor Swift to Blondie to the Book of Mormon, and jokes that will tickle the youngsters and others that will fly over their heads to delight the adults in the audience.
This is a class act that does everything family entertainment should, and perfectly pitched to the Fisher’s compact stage. A real festive treat.
- Cinderella continues at the Fisher Theatre, Bungay until December 31, 2023