THERE are few things that are more quintessentially British than The Christmas Pantomime.
You only have to sit next to an American or mainland European in an audience and you quickly realise just how unique panto is, no matter how much the Italians might claim it as the child of commedia dell’arte!
From those earliest family visits things get imprinted on your consciousness – shouting “behind you” or “oh no, it’s not”, joining in the audience song, and of course booing and hissing the villain till the theatre rafters ring!
The challenge for 21st century panto producers is to keep it fresh and local but never turn their backs on the traditions – and they don’t do it better than in the Duncan Reeves production of Cinderella for Poole’s Lighthouse this Christmas.
There’s a television star in the person of the rotund and loveable Ethan Lawrence, known as Joe Poulter in Bad Education. For an actor who has never before performed on stage, let alone in pantomime, he does a wonderful job, quickly delighting all sections of the audience with his comedy, his pathos and his natural affinity with the younger watchers.
Lucy-Jane Quinlan is the perfect Cinderella – as fine an actor and singer as she is pretty and poignant, with no hint of pertness. And she sings Sondheim’s difficult Into the Woods beautifully.
And Lucy Kay, who first came to public attention in the 2014 Britain’s Got Talent, is a stunning Fairy Godmother, using her exceptional and varied singing voice for rock classics and Ivor Novello and all the things between, as well as doing all the requisite magic.
George Beet is a dashing and unusually grounded prince, and Richard Gibson an unexpectedly comical Baron Hardup.
You won’t find an uglier pair of sisters than Ivana (Jay Worthy) and Ivanka (Miles Western). They are nasty, crude, garish and magnificantly costumed and coiffured. Just hiss!
Written and directed by Peter Duncan, the show is a triumph of mixology – the traditional and the modern performed by a sparkling company. The Poole Cinderella is on until Saturday 6th January.
Photography by Richard Budd