REVIEW: Cinderella is as endearing as ever thanks to players
PUBLISHED: 17:37 14 January 2019 | UPDATED: 14:52 15 January 2019
When Loddon Players staged their first pantomime in 1976, they chose Cinderella for their debut production.
Now, 42 years later, they are staging it for the fifth time - and judging by the opening night on Friday, they have made it as fresh and animated as ever, true to local pantomime traditions, and to community repartees through frequent references to local people and premises.
They have ensured Cinderella is as endearing as ever for audiences, full of pathos, emotion and humour, with the splendid costumes and sets which have been hallmark of the Players for more than four decades. It is, in fact, a show to be enjoyed by all the family, and up to the standard we have come to expect from this enterprising and creative theatre group.
The tone is set from the moment Katherine, Leona and Henrietta (Ana Harper-Bourne, Ellie Bingham and Lucy Sutton) come on the stage, quickly followed by Buttons. Beth Rose-Waghorn is to be congratulated on her portrayal of that favourite character, Cinderella’s great supporter, filling it with energy and natural ability.
Cinderella is played by Abby Harper-Bourne, confidently and expressively, while Howard Dover and Peter Samain keep the fun and laughter going on a high level as the ugly sisters, Olga and Petunia - over-dressed, over-conceited and over-the-top, just as the audience likes them. Carolyn Dover as their Baroness mother complements them well.
Holly Pinder as Dandini looks the part and fills it with energy, while Lauren Gray has the role of Prince Charming - tall, good-looking and focussed. His duets with Cinderella are well handled.
Sarah Morris-Colman is the Fairy Godmother, and oversees the tricky task of transforming the objects into the coach and horses with great patience, while Jackie Bingham and Pauline Mason provide funny interludes as Velcro and Fly.
Harvey Wick, Graham Orpet and Sharon Sutton complete the cast, while the chorus is made up of Ellie Bingham, Ana Harper-Bourne and Harvey Wick.
And the show would not be the same without the Funk Feet Dancers. They have been an important part of the Loddon pantomime for many years now, and once again their nimble routines and lithe movements, choreographed by Vicky Codling, were admired and enjoyed by the audience.
Jackie Bingham directed and Steve Burton produced this popular and eagerly awaited community happening, which only lacked one thing. For the first time in 42 years Maureen Larkin was not among the cast - she has finally hung up her costumes for a well-earned rest. But I fancy her enduring influence was still there somewhere.
The pantomime is on again for more performances at Lecture Hall, George Lane, Loddon, on Friday and Saturday, and Thursday, Friday and Saturday next week, with matinees. To book tickets call 01508 520162.