January can be a hard month to get through after all the fun and excitement of Christmas, so SHADES had the perfect antidote with their 2020 offering ‘Cinderella’ by Clare Snelling. Audiences packed the Arbuthnot Hall in Shamley Green on 23rd, 24th and two performances on 25th January 2020
Magic and mayhem were in the mix in this traditional tale. Cinderella, played by Scarlett McLaren with confidence and charm, is reduced to the role of servant in her own home, by her evil new Stepmother (Sonia Chapman), all under the nose of her doting father Baron Hardup, played by JP Judson.
Cinderella’s best friend Buttons (Nadine Parkinson), who was in love with young Cinders, provided the audience with plenty of interaction, lots of jolly japes and attracted ‘ooooh’s and ahhhh’s’ of sympathy when he realised Cinderella might love someone else.
The hideous Ugly Sisters Salmonella and Semolina (Rupert Osborne & James Reed) gave some stand out hilarious moments - their ’Two Ladies’ song with the King was a particular highlight, and the table scene was a triumph in terms of set design and belly laughs.
More laughter was provided by Knick and Knack, the hapless Palace Guards, played with superb comic timing by Jack Reed and Tom James, their tyre scene was slick and fun!
Prince Charming and his sidekick Dandini played by Sam James and Charlotte Uddin, tackled their roles with skill and maturity as they wandered the land seeking the Princes’ true love.
Along the way, we met a Confused Cast Member (Fiona Gallacher), a character who unfortunately had missed out on a part in the panto and is forced play many different roles - Palace Guard, Robin Hood, Ugly Sister, Wicked Queen and Genie of the Lamp – and the latter ends up saving the day!!
The scene at the end of act one was a layer cake of emotion with Cinderella’s sad and beautiful song, plus clever transformation, left the audiences wanting more.
No pantomime is complete without a charming fairy and Diane Littlewood was on sparkling form as the Fairy Godmother. Peter Palmer and Rachel Uddin were perfect as the King and Queen.
The chorus of villagers and courtiers - Caroline James, Gemma Perkins and Rachel Uddin - sang and danced their way through the show with great gusto. Fiona Gallacher provided them with some admirable choreography and kept the cast moving well. Special mention should go to the mice, Cheddar and Mozzarella, played by Alice Jones and Nelly Perkins, who choreographed their own dance numbers with dexterity and grace.
Last (but by no means least) was the one and only Ronald Bailey as the Evil Butler Igor, gaining cheers and boos from his usual fan club.
Musical maestro Chris Snelling, bass player Rob Miller and drummer Mark Stammers did yet another superb job with the musical numbers, inter-scene music and signature drum and cymbal crashes. Wonderful costumes were provided by Marion Cozens.
Well done to the cast and crew, and especially Carl Harmer who made his debut, directing this fast flowing and very enjoyable production, while Producer Sonia Chapman and Stage Manager Clare Snelling did an excellent job dealing with the special effects and quick scene changes.
SHADES will be giving a donation to the Princess Alice Hospice, and would like to thank the audiences for their support.