Sunday, December 21, 2008

Did They Have Ball? You Bet They Did!

Northampton Chronicle and Echo
December 18, 2008

If it isn't already, then surely one of the great rites of passage for any parent and child should be their first trip to the panto together.

Derngate's production of Cinderella, which runs until January 11, left neither this reviewer nor his four-year-old Jack wanting on any count: It was truly fabulous from start to finish.

Cinderella is rightly billed as the greatest panto of them all and was actually the last one I saw, circa 1974, when I doubtless missed all the parent-oriented gags that peppered this one and help to make the traditional panto a great standalone entertainment for the adults too.

Jimmy Osmond revealed how this was his first ever stab at panto, but he was a tremendously assured presence on stage throughout. Warm and witty in the part of Buttons, he also had ladies of a certain vintage swooning in the aisles with a rendition of his trademark Long Haired Lover from Liverpool while a series of giant – and we mean giant – balloons were bounced around the auditorium.

The plotline was followed loyally, but there was plenty of contemporary humour along the way, mostly from an excellent pair of ugly sisters (Brian Godfrey was especially good) and a brilliant Baron Hardup, played by Peter Piper, whose repertoire included possibly the only gag doing the panto rounds about a lock-up in Bellinge, an amazing take-off of Basil Fawlty and a very bizarre scene involving a gorilla where the kids were left mesmerised. And a few parents confused too.

The stronger first half culminated in perhaps the best scene of the show with Cinders heading for the ball in a fantastic blaze of colour and a carriage pulled by two Shetland ponies. The second half was a riot of dance, colour and song and some really beautiful costumes – not least Cinderella (the excellent Danielle York) – and sets.

Our performance was only at the very start of a month-long run, but it was faultless and the cast had the audience utterly smitten by the end. And did Jack and his parents have a night to remember? Oh yes they did.

Cinderella runs at Derngate until Sunday, January 11. Call the box office on Northampton 624811 or book online at
Richard Edmondson

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