Cinderella at Poole Lighthouse

WRITTEN and directed by versatile children’s TV stalwart Chris Jarvis, the Poole Christmas show also stars Chris as Buttons with Tyger Drew-Honey as Prince Charming. The lively version tells the familiar story with lots of popular songs as well as all the vital elements – romance, bullying ugly sisters, kindness, magic and ponies. It’s a sure-fire hit.

Chris has massaged the original story. Hardup Hall becomes a Poole Quay  old favourite, Hardup Hall Hotel, but it’s seen better days – much better days. Baron Hardup has sailed across to the Isle of Wight, and married a wealthy widowed mother of two unmarried daughters.  She (and her fortune) will save the hotel, he tells his daughter Cinderella and her devoted friend Buttons. But the Baron has been bamboozled.

The ever-cultured Nadine and Doris’s mother is a skint and scheming money-grabber, not the loaded heiress she claims to be. She’s sitting tight on the IoW while the ghastly duo come to further fleece their new father in Dorset. But they reckoned without the interest of Cinderella’s fairy godmother, ably assisted by two apprentice fairies.

Of course it all comes right in the end, after two hours of fun and frolics, monsters, shattered illusions and outrageous costumes.  The packed house of local school pupils, out on their first panto trip since the end of 2019, were excited and joining in from the moment the curtain went up.

There’s a bit of local flavour in the cast as well as the setting, with Simon Rawlings (son of Keith and Eileen of Bournemouth Theatre Club fame) as Baron Hardup, and Tilda Collecott and Ethan Cawthorn, recent graduates from Arts University Bournemouth, as the indispensable apprentices. They are mentored by Lauren Azania’s powerful fairy godmother, who had the audience singing in full voice from the get-go.

Alex Vass is a much more interesting than usual Dandini, watching over the prince with more than a dutiful interest, but destined for disappointment. He’s no slouch on the violin, either. Alex was male understudy in last year’s Poole panto.

Andrew Pollard and Alim Jadavji are wonderfully contrasted ugly sisters, and their costumes are gasp-inducing. It was great to see them revive the famous mirror routine – and they did it brilliantly.

Charlotte Wood, who understudied Beauty in the 21-22 Poole pantomime, returns as a spirited Cinderella, and her prince is awkwardly charming, bringing a modern nuance to the traditional role.  Chris Jarvis is, as always, a joy.

The show continues until the end of December.


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