Cinderella The Rock ’n’ Roll Panto by Peter Rowe – New Wolsey Theatre till 2nd February
This is the perfect panto to put you in the mood for Christmas!
The traditional panto we all know and love has taken a spin this year, with the 10th ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto’ at The New Wolsey! Peter Rowe is the playwright of this extraordinary piece, who, I must say, does a brilliant job on the whole play. The pantomime is hanging around the Wolsey theatre from the 29th of November to the 2nd of February, so plenty of time to catch this festive bonanza!
Opening the play was the Fairy Godmother, played by Lucy Wells, providing us with an explanation of who she was (musically of course) and little bit of back story on Cinderellas’ and other characters’ lives. Her bubbling role always seemed to put a smile on people’s faces, but not as much as Cinderella’s father, Baron Hardup, who was magnificently played by Steve Simmonds. To begin with he talks us through his tragic life, the fact he’s been through 3 wives and not found true love! But fear not as he does find a special lady… Rubella De Zees! Played by the wonderful actress Susannah Van Den Berg, she soon becomes the villain, when her plot to get rid of her new fiancé comes into view. Her two gruesome daughters, Hernia (Sean Kingsly) and Verruca (Adam Langstaff), follow the same evil views as their mother, hoping to get with the Prince and his riches at the ball!
Will Prince Charming make the right decision? Played by Chris Vince, Prince Charming is feeling pressure trying to find someone to love, so his wingman Dandini (Mark Newnham) makes it his job to help him find it. Cinderella (Daniella Piper) is in a similar situation, with only love on her mind. Sadly for her working partner Buttons (James Haggie) it’s not his love she’s after. Though Cinderella may not have a thing for Buttons, the audience certainly do! He steals the audience’s hearts in a number of ways. Last but not least we have the Royal messenger (Sheridan Lloyd) who doesn’t play a huge part in the play but is a fantastic musician and is vital for all the songs played.
As I became immersed in the story, I was particularly drawn to certain actors, one of which was Steve Simmonds who played Baron Hardup. He had a strong connection with the audience as soon as he cracked his first joke, it was almost as if we became best friends. His direct address was perfectly executed and lines smoothly spoken. Many of his jokes were gut-busting, leaving adults and children with tears in their eyes. Saying this, some of these one-liners seemed a little grown up for child ears. There was no swearing whatsoever but there are various references to ‘balls’ and so forth! Not only could this man have the potential to steal a show, he has the potential to run an orchestra. His musical talent is enormous! He played many different instruments throughout the theatre performance, including bass, saxophone, guitar, drums and even having a singsong in-between! His countless talents are sure to get him far.
Another actor that caught my eye was James Haggie, who had a blinder of a performance. He played the role of Buttons exquisitely, putting on a hilarious voice and producing some of the best comedy lines in the play, without breaking character! His gifts didn’t stop there, after acting with his priceless voice, he then starts singing in his natural, low voice, which proved to be very comical. He had a lovely voice and he sung it as if he was Elvis. Like the other actors, he could play almost every other instrument, he is truly a man of many talents!
The box set lay out of the stage really complimented the fairy tale we know and love. The fact the actors were so close to the front row gave us a realistically magical feeling. This, of course, was enhanced by superb acting. The way the chandeliers were pulled across the room when the transformation to the palace took place after the interval had a lasting impact, making us feel we were in a palace surrounded by wealth. The movement of the props and the stage was very clever and well-choreographed.
The sound was everything within the play. The high quality music complimented the storyline and the panto itself massively. I would recommend it in other pantos in the future. The lights and sound effects were spot on, with great coordination, professionalism and timing, it made the production come alive. Also, these over the top sound effects gave a happy and cheerful approach, which pleased and satisfied all the kids inside the theatre.
In my opinion the panto was almost perfect, with the cheery voices, the interactions with the crowd and putting huge smiles on children and adults’ faces! The music made this performance stand out from any other pantomime I’ve seen. The music was fantastic, playing all our favourite songs to the character we know them to be! It flowed throughout, from acting to performing songs, it was very professional.
The only negative thing I would point out is that it was very long, 2h and 30 mins to be precise. With the production starting at 19:30, it meant quite late nights for young children and a lack of concentration toward the end. A tired and grumpy child is something a parent doesn’t want to take care of on a night out. Therefore, I would say that the play is suitable for ages 9 and up, simply for the timing (and slightly unsuitable jokes). But, with that said, it was an overall incredible performance and the actors and other members of staff should be proud with the effort and thought put into the singing and acting carried out on a Tuesday night. A must watch this Christmas, even if theatre isn’t your thing!
A Review By Freddie Adams, East Bergholt High School