THERE isn’t a better way to gauge childrens’ reactions to a pantomime than to go along to a schools matinee – if you can stand the volume, that is.
Four Wiltshire primary schools turned up for the first afternoon of Cinderella at the Playhouse this year, and the response was ear-shattering. When the Ugly Sisters (here Hashtag and Viral) tried to get Cinders into the cellar, the warnings swelled to fever-pitch, but still she fell for their fake promises of friendship!
This most popular of all pantomime stories has had a bit of a shake-up from writers Clare Plested, Adam Brown and Amanda Wilsher, newly commissioned by Salisbury Playhouse to create this year’s show. They have dropped Buttons, turned Dandini into Deldini (in a nod to David Jason’s Mr Trotter, but looking a bit more like Boy George), and brought the Fairy Godmother in from the US of A, as well as having female Uglies and the dame (the excellent Daniel Goode) as the stepmother, the lusty and love-starved Lady Stella.
The glittering set and lighting are used to full effect in Gareth Machin’s production, which introduces a spunky and scientific Cinders (Jasmine Triadi) and a dancing prince with a teddy bear (George Olney).
There is LOTS of audience participation, and those big colourful plastic water pistols (cannons!) to make sure some of the noise is damped down.
Lucy Aiston and Fergie Fraser have fun as the bean-eating influencer sisters in a show that starts with celebrity superstar fairy godmother Fairy Showbiz beaming down from a new moon, all the way from America (in the shape of the London-born Jade Johnson, whose huge voice and warm personality delighted the entire audience.)
It’s a great show for all the family, full of clever jokes, just as funny as they are topical.