Laughs galore at panto

PUBLISHED: 16:36 08 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:08 17 June 2010

The magic of pantomime is still irresistible to both young and old and a strong Sidmouth Amateur Dramatic Society cast, with a healthy blend of youth and experience, is enchanting and enthralling audiences at the Manor Pavilion Theatre with the most-loved panto of all - Cinderella.

The magic of pantomime is still irresistible to both young and old and a strong Sidmouth Amateur Dramatic Society cast, with a healthy blend of youth and experience, is enchanting and enthralling audiences at the Manor Pavilion Theatre with the most-loved panto of all - Cinderella.

This lively version, written by Peter Denyer and skilfully directed by Nick Bornet, is full of vitality and zooms along with zing and zest to hold the audience's attention throughout this two-hour family-friendly show. It is extremely pleasing visually, with sympathetic set and scenery, well-chosen, colourful costumes, extremely effective lighting and plenty of action.

A real star performance comes from Rosie Aylward in the title role as the sincere, sugar-sweet Cinderella. She wins our hearts with her innocence and beauty which shine through the scenes of downtrodden drudgery at Hardup Hall, as well as in the Royal Ballroom scene and the finale. Her singing is also delightful, with numbers like On my own, Opposites and I could have danced all night.

She shared scenes of fun and pathos with her "bestest" friend, Buttons, well-played by Tom Bornet, including the make-believe 'going to the ball' scene in the kitchen, leading to the transformation scene. Tom establishes a good rapport with the audience and brings out both humour and sadness.

Laughs galore came from Marc Colson and Ashley Leeds in fantastic form as ugly sisters Mona and Griselda Hardup. They were outstandingly funny with outlandish outfits and outrageous antics. They showed terrific timing and teamwork, especially throwing eggs and all sorts in the clever kitchen scene. What a dynamic duo!!

A very different kind of treat came from Jane Ledwood, who made a radiant, romantic Prince Charming, playing the role with class and clarity, she and Cinders made a perfect royal pair.

Karen McGarvie causes amusement as a rather unconventional, uncultured, clumsy royal servant, Dandini, who finds changing places with the Prince leads to problems, especially with the unwanted attentions of Mona and Griselda. David Harrison added to the fun as the ineffectual Baron Hardup, who is bullied by the ugly sisters and Leigh Steedman also entertained as the Chamberlain whose attempts to bring decorum are ruined by the ugly sisters.

Pia Thum makes a friendly Fairy Godmother and she charmingly acts as narrator, as well as leading Cinderella to her Prince and getting her to the Royal Ball.

The chorus of Alexa Baker, Baz Breadmore, Heather Hodge, Val Newton, Nick Parish, Julie Salmon and Leigh Steedman, together with the Junior Chorus, gave invaluable support. I especially enjoyed Leigh's antics in the hunt scene. The Junior Chorus, with teams of eight and 10, brought welcome youthful charm. However, on the night I attended, they could have further enhanced the proceedings with more smiles.

Musical maestros John Griswold, Celia Monck and Keith Steel provided excellent, unobtrusive musical accompaniment. The songs themselves were short and sweet but effective.

Choreographer Amy Frost ensured the movement and dance was pleasing and the production team made the most of the magical moments.

Congratulations to Nick Bornet, the cast and all involved, for a super Cinderella.

Roger Simmonds


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