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Somborne Players

DON'T EAT THE CUSTARD!

Poor Cinders (Kelda Lay)!  Not only did she have the stepsisters from hell (flirtatious Chris Hall and a splendidly mincing Andrew Flanagan), she also had to cope with a profoundly deaf father (David Haydon on top form), who could be relied on to get the wrong end of every stick, and a wicked stepmother (Sue Spurling) whose custard would have poisoned many of the characters if the audience hadn’t been there to shout out a warning.

Not everyone was against Cinderella though.  She had her pet mice (Louis Andrews, Sammy Holligan, Oliver Waggott and Charlie Wilson), who scurried here and there across the stage, cleverly mimicking the real animals and occasionally appearing as pirates! And she had Buttons (Sue Jackson). Why Cinders never fell for Buttons was a mystery!  He was her staunchest supporter and, what's more, he did a mean Elvis impersonation, turning up at the ball in blue suede shoes.  Their dance – backed by the farmhands and milkmaids (Lauren Cartwright, Hailey Hallwood, Hannah Harwood, Joseph Rickard, Izzy and Sebastian van Leest and Christopher and Nicola Waggott) and superbly choreographed by Kelda Lay (as were all the dances) - nearly brought the house down.

Meanwhile Prince Rupert (Rebecca Rickard) had problems of his own. King Cuthbert (Nigel Coleman) and his Privy Councillors (yes, you've guessed where THEY met!) led by the Prime Minister (a very sensible Simon Harwood), wanted the Prince to marry, regardless of love. Kali Argent, Lauren Harwood and Thomas Rickard were a wonderful set of bureaucrats, proving that even in pantoland it's the men in suits (and in one case the tallest top hat in the world) who rule the country.

The Prince's friend Dandini (Leslie Evans), in a very fetching sombrero, saved the day by suggesting a Grand Ball to allow the Prince the chance meet all the loveliest young girls in the country – and of course the ugly sisters.  The ball (like the whole panto) was beautifully staged thanks to Adam Lay’s set design, Chris Hall’s scenery and general production input, and stage manager Alan Glynne Jones and his team.

Thanks to her fairy godmother (Jo Finch), Cinderella arrived at the ball in a pirate ship sailed by her mice and instantly captivated the Prince, although when she inevitably fled on the stroke of midnight, it seemed he was more captivated by her shoe!

The resulting search built suspense as to whether the Prince would ever find his Cinders.  Everything of course turned out happily ever after (although one small boy worried to his mother that Cinderella and the Prince could not get married as 'they're both ladies').

 

With supporting performances by Juliette and Isabelle Ryan as the King’s footman and herald respectively and the hilarious appearance of the pantomime cow (Pollyann Monk and Kerry Natt), the stage was set for another successful panto. The combined efforts of Bill Sutton on sound, Steve Denford and Trevor Ryan on lighting and Bridget Coleman on piano added to the atmosphere. And we mustn’t forget the people front of house who, among other things, made sure the audience had as much wine as required (except during the matinee!).

Director Vicky Burden once again showed exactly how a panto should be played and is to be congratulated on achieving such polished performances from the entire cast, especially the children.  Everyone left with broad smiles of pure happiness on their faces.

                                                       written for The Gauntlet by PHYLLIS BENNETT


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