Dereham Theatre Company - Cinderella2014-15
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Director - Jill Jarman
Musical Director - Ian Futers
Choreographer - Amy Futers
27th December 2014 to 3rd January 2015
at Dereham Memorial Hall
CINDERELLA - Katrina Porter
PRINCE - Jacqui Shar
DANDINI - Amy Futers
BUTTONS - Matthew Hartley
FAIRY - Caroline Caldecott
BARON - John McInnes
BARONESS - Chrissie Robertson
GERTRUDE - Doug Hartley
GRIZELDA - Paul Allum
BODGETT - Nathan Harrod
LEGETT - Nick Bird
CHAMBERS - Doug Bailey
HAGAN THE HORSE - Helen Bailey & Jackie Gooch
Matilda Banks, Zanna Banks, Ashleigh Beale, Esme Findlay, Lilly Hurt, Abigail Shar, Fiona Sheldrick, Lillian Walthew
Doug Bailey, Helen Bailey, Sandra Miller, Sarah Margree, Heather Neave, Ellie Read, Haydn Rogers
Lucy Daniels, Amy Evans, Rebekah Hartley, Rebecca Howard
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Review by Stephen P. E. Hayter, NODA Regional Representative Area 4 North
2nd January 2015
"With Pantomime season back again, I was delighted to find myself comfortably seated at the Memorial Hall, Dereham doing my very passable bi-annual impression of Local NODA Regional Representative Sue Dupont. A quick review of last year’s notes reminded me it had been Snow White and a tertiary glance at my ticket told me it was Cinderella this year. With another script by Alan Frayn it was all to play for.
The auditorium was heaving as usual and I found out later that ticket sales had been plentiful in the extreme so there was every likelihood of boo and hiss by the bucket load. The set was once again perfection with spectacular backdrops appearing willy and nilly, silently, and the efficiency of an unwanted Apple software update! Lighting by Emotive Sound and Light Ltd was top notch of course, with costumes (designed by Michele Blanks) combined with complimentary wigs and make up (Selina Bhantoo, Sophie Blanks, Sue Jude and friends) that could not be faulted.
As usual with any Dereham production there were always plenty of bodies on stage giving it the feel of a lavish production. The Ensemble, Children’s Ensemble and Dancers were enthusiastic and confident with their positioning, song words and dance steps. My only surprise was that Choreographer Amy Futers was not in the dance line up as would normally be the case, the reason became apparent soon enough.
Of the supporting cast I thoroughly enjoyed Helen Bailey and Jackie Gooch as Hagan the pantomime horse and Doug Bailey as Chambers, John McInnes as the Baron and Chrissie Robertson as the Baroness who all delivered solid perfomances. The aforementioned choreographer soon hove into sight, this time with words, as the delightful Amy Futers delivered a lovely performance as the Prince’s consort Dandini, offering excellent support to Jacqui Shar as the Prince. Mrs Shar’s performance being all the more spectacular for her having learned it in 10 days over Christmas to fill an unexpected gap in the cast. Caroline Caldecott was perfection as the Fairy Godmother, never faltering in the delivery of her countless rhyming speeches.
In the more prominent parts, Doug Hartley and Paul Allum did a nice job with the ugly sisters with Paul Allum looking the more confident with his lines and moves and making much of the excellent “Big Al” running gag. I have no idea how old Katrina Porter is but she worked hard to bring the title character to life. I noted that she did struggle a little with the songs and, at times, I wondered if she was a bit young for the part, perhaps lacking experience. Having said that she looked great and was always in the right place at the right time. The same was true of Matthew Hartley as Buttons who, although delivering a nice characterisation, looked a little short on experience on a couple of occasions.
Penultimate paragraph honours have to go to the two Broker’s men played beautifully by legendary Nick Bird and hilarious Nathan Harrod. Mr Bird is the ultimate professional pantomime comic and although the script left him a little short of material the lovely relaxed support from Mr Harrod had me crying with laughter. They were at their best when it seemed to go wrong and Mr Harrod really looked to be enjoying himself, so much so, that you just had to do the same. Both gentlemen were confident with their lines in a way that I wondered if some of the mistakes were actually on purpose. Either way it was a joy to see them in action.
My compliments to Director, Jill Jarman for a very tidy piece of direction that was difficult to fault and to Ian Futers for the accompaniment. It was also nice to see the coolest drummer in East Anglia back in harness (if the Muppet’s Animal were a person ….). Of the last three pantomimes I have seen at Dereham I thought this was the weakest script and although I thoroughly enjoyed myself, it was down to the direction and performances to raise this piece above where it could well have landed."