Cinderella – The Panto

Written on November 22nd, 2016

The Ugliest Step-Sisters   

Drayton Entertainment has hit the mark again, with a panto that offers lots of fun for the wee ones and enough laughs to keep Mom & Dad or Grandma & Grandpa entertained.  Caroline Smith, the same playwright who brought us the Aladdin and Snow White pantos is back with her tried and true formula:  A villain you can boo, a sweet love story, and a crazy character who brings the kids up on stage for some audience participation.  And oh yes, there are guys in women’s clothing which always adds to the laughs.

This time around it’s Justin Bott and Aiden DeSalaiz who play Revolta and Atrocia, the ugly step-sisters.  Their unusual dresses and gowns are, well, out of this world, and of course they are beautifully made up – indeed, their faces are a salute to the cosmetic industry.  The pair has perfect comedic timing, and they make the most of their sibling rivalry.  They sing “Sisters” – the popular White Christmas tune, adding to the hilarity with their feather fans.   Cinderella Panto 2

Tim Porter is Buttons, the character that talks directly to the kids and has the fun of bringing some little ones on stage to chat with him.  Porter is excellent at improv and finds a way to have fun with each child, to the audience’s delight.

Danielle Wade is a beautiful Cinderella, singing in her clear, sweet voice.  Jenni Burke is the kind fairy Godmother, who is able to conjure up the Light Rapid Transit out of a pumpkin which gets Cinderella to the ball on time.  Jamie McKnight is Prince Charming and has the smooth tenor voice to go with his character.  He is even able to sing while hopping about on a pogo stick.  Matt Palmer makes the most of his role as the Prince’s Footman, having great fun with an Italian accent.

Jackie Mustakas reprises her role as the villain.  She is the evil stepmother Baroness Notapenny. She is delightfully nasty and kids love to boo and hiss as soon as she appears on stage. She sings and dances her way impressively through the show.  She manipulates Cinderella’s dad, the Baron Notappenny, played suitably in a Caspar Milque-Toast style by Geoffrey Whynot.  The Baron and Baroness live in Downtrodden Abbey.

The story follows the traditional Cinderella fairy tale, with a few funny quirks.  The music is all modern pop tunes, which will appeal to the kids and adults alike.  Atrocia and Revolta sing “Born This Way”, and later their wicked stepmother joins them with “Material Girl”.  The wedding scene wraps up the show with “Today Was A Fairy Tale.”

The Mom and Dad jokes are tucked into the show – just enough to hold adults’ attention.  In one scene, the wicked stepmother wants Cinderella stopped and yells “Seize her!”  Instead, she is handed first handed a Caesar Salad, and then a Bloody Caesar.

The costumes are excellent.  They led us down the garden path – Cinderella had a lovely pink gown of her mother’s that she had made over and it seemed nice enough for the ball.  The audience assumed she would be going without the Fairy Godmother’s assistance.  But then the wicked stepmother ripped it apart.  Finally the Fairy Godmother creates a beautiful glittering turquoise gown for Cinderella, which suddenly appears on her before our eyes. Later she has a beautiful sparkling bridal gown, with the female chorus in gorgeous turquoise gowns. Kudos to Costume Designer Rachel Berchtold.

Two groups of children alternate performances on stage. They are well-choreographed and are an excellent addition to the show.

Grandparents – this is an excellent way to look after the grandchildren while Mom and Dad go Christmas shopping.  Take them out for some Panto fun.

Cinderella – The Panto continues with eight shows a week until December 24 at St. Jacobs Country Playhouse, St. Jacobs. Tickets are available by calling Toll Free 1-855-372-9866 or Local Box Office 519-747-7788 or check www.draytonentertainment.com

Photo: Jackie Mustakas, Aidan DeSalaiz, Justin Bott, Danielle Wade, Jamie McKnight and Company in Cinderella – Panto.  Photo by Hilary Gauld-Camilleri, One For The Wall Photography.

Cinderella – The Panto
By Caroline Smith
Orchestrations & Vocal Arrangements by Nico Rhodes
Directed and Choreographed by David Connolly
Musical Direction by Marion Abbott
Performed by Justin Bott, Jenni Burke, Aidan DeSalaiz, Sam DiGiuseppi, Jason Franco, Kelsey Lacombe, Jamie McKnight, Jackie Mustakas, Nicholas Nesbitt, Matt Palmer, Time Porter, Danielle Wade, Robin Warwick, Christine Watson, Geoffrey Whynot and Children’s Chorus.
Produced by Drayton Entertainment
St. Jacobs Country Playhouse, St. Jacobs
November 15 to December 24, 2016
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

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