IN the six years since Paul Hendy and Emily Wood took over the creaky, clunky Octagon panto-mimes, they have transformed the Yeovil Christmas show into something that any professional theatre in the country could be proud of.
And this year’s Cinderella, on until 7th January, is a fantastic show from beginning to end, with not a weak link, some hilarious new routines and new ways to do the old familiar scenes. AND a first half close that will have you gasping with wonder.
It is the favourite pantomime of all, with magic, transformations, baddies getting their extravagant come-uppance, romance and excitement. But it’s still important not to lose sight of the story in the set piece scenes, and in this production, directed by Ugly Sister Matt Daines, every single aspect has been covered.
The two teams of locally-recruited young dancers took their lead from the six excellent adult dancing courtiers, each of them totally involved in the story.
Jack Glanville is now a regular fixture at the Octagon panto, and he brings all his sweet charm and quickfire comedy to the role of Buttons. He’s joined once again by Lizzie Frances as the Fairy Godmother (whose Little Old Lady owes a huge debt of gratitude to Mrs Overall).
Ashley Emerson is a really handsome prince, and it was wonderful to see Thomas Ford from Crewkerne back on the Octagon stage, scene of previous triumphs with Yeovil Youth Theatre and YAOS. He’s a dashing Dandini and a gifted comedian too.
Joanna Sawyer is all you could want from a Cinderella, and Mark Faith is an unusually convincing Baron. Ian Smith is Eugenie to Matt Daines’ Beatrice, and truly horrible they are, with sensational costumes and Mach 2 changes.
The audience participation song is a clever medley that gets everyone singing out.
I could not recommend this pantomime more highly as the perfect way to introduce young audiences to live theatre, for a night out with family and friends or an example of how it is possible to take new ideas and fold them seamlessly into the traditional story.