Cinderella creates big waves at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre
Cinderella, forced into a life of servitude by her evil stepmother, will she get to the ball to win the heart of her prince before her fairy godmothers midnight curfew? Fret not as discarded footwear leads the prince to his true love and of course they all live happily ever after.
We all know the story of Cinderella, a timeless fairytale that has entertained the young and the young at heart for countless generations. This bedtime favourite has been interpreted numerous times in print, on the stage and on the big screen, Disney’s 1950 version is an animated classic and provides a popular point of reference of how the story should look and feel.
So its with a rising sense of anticipation that we take our seats in the packed auditorium of the Stephen Joseph Theatre with the promise of an evening of entertainment and an original take on this vintage tale. And original it is. Giving the story a contemporary setting with all the action taking place right here on the beaches, in the hotels and arcades of Scarborough is a nice touch and provides a familiar backdrop for the characters to inhabit. The characters themselves are larger than life as you’d expect and played with aplomb by a cast of experienced stage actors.
Our heroine, Ella Drift is a fisherman’s daughter, her mother lost at sea, who dreams of nothing more than sailing her fathers boat. Actress Martina Horrigan is perfectly suited to the role. Sweet enough to melt the iciest of hearts with the steely determination to overcome adversity. Which come in the form of her hideous stepmother and her evil spawn Gail Force, and O.M.G are they nasty to poor old Ella.
Actor Howard Gossington drags up in the great tradition of British panto and has fun creating a cartoonish version of the kind of spoilt, moody teenager that’s every parents nightmare, well, except of course for her mother, May Force, who is similarly awful.
Becky Hindley is great in the role of this loudmouthed man-eater with a penchant for widowers, a real boo/hiss villain that every good fairytale requires. The pair work well together and steal most of the shows big laughs.
Paul Ryan plays a dual role, as Ella’s dad he’s an earnest fisherman and as sleazy entrepreneur Den Pence he channels Elvis with a pinch of David Dickenson thrown in making him a charismatic character with real presence.
His son Severil Pence, this stories prince charming, is a shy surfer dude played by Iddon Jones who just want to ride the waves and find the girl of his dreams.
The more well known godmother is replaced by the ethereal fairy crab-mother, Maria Gough give an otherworldly performance as Ella’s crustation guide. An eastern inspired costume complete with driftwood pincers gives the character an unforgettable look. A testament to the quality of design at the S.J.T. Not just that, the fact a near bare stage can be transformed from a perilous sea to a bustling arcade and even a giant hourglass with the clever use of lighting, sound effects and minimal stage props is a credit to the behind the scenes team.
Ella’s surfboard style carriage gives the little ones in the audience a nice opportunity to participate in the proceedings by helping to pick up bottles to help her create her a colourful transport and ensuring she gets to the ball on time.
Andrew Pollard’s fine version of this old fable is entertaining, fun and a great start to the panto season. Ideal for the family, suitable for young children with enough to keep mum and dad amused, this is well worth a watch.
Cinderella runs at the SJT until 15th December. Tickets cost £15 for adults and £7.50 for children or £38 for 2 adults and 2 children. Tickets can be booked by calling the Box Office on 01723 370541 or online at www.sjt.uk.com