Last night Chellaston Players had me and the rest of the audience in stitches with what was the funniest slapstick scene I have seen in a long time.
The marathon sing-song was endearingly silly and packed with risqué gags. No-one there will be able to forget the ‘flashing’ of Ugly Sister Halitosis in her guise as a lighthouse keeper.
I might have gone alone to see Cinderella at St Peter’s Church Hall and unlike everyone else I knew no-one in the cast but that didn’t matter a jot as I was swept up in the enjoyment along with them all.
When it’s your local pantomime being staged by your neighbours and friends it doesn’t matter if there’s a few first night nerves, forgotten lines and technical hitches – that’s all part of the amusement and the Chellaston Players made the most of their faux pas much to everyone’s delight.
They even took advantage of one excited little girl, whose mum was on the stage, ‘prompting’ from the auditorium.
Writer and director Michael Gaunt, the 14-strong cast and the backstage team should be congratulated for presenting a cracking panto which ticked all the boxes.
The Ugly Sisters, Halitosis played by Annalieze Malcolm and Scurvy, by Jane Henshall, were perfectly paired and took the stage by storm every time they appeared.
Playing the role of their mother Baroness Hardup, was E Montgomery Ashford, a marvellous choice for the part, who clearly relished strutting in front of the audience. He had a powerful presence and equally powerful voice.
Dom Gibbs, as Buttons, received one of the biggest cheers of the night for his enthusiastic, cheerful chappy performance and he certainly deserved the applause.
Katyana Malcolm, a regular member of the Players cast and director of last year’s panto, was equally as good as Dandini – I loved her nervous knee-wobbling when she was being ‘harassed’ by the Ugly Sisters.
Cinderella, played by the impossibly pretty Olivia Wilkinson, and her Prince Charming, Bethany Madden sang beautifully and captivated the hall.
However it was Stephanie Ashford as Queen Have-A-Lot who quietly stole the show by snoring away on her throne during the ball only waking up to blast the cuckoo clock. It was quite simply hilarious.
The rest of the cast were Katherine Sheldrake as Fairy Godmother; Michael Wadkinson, Baron Hardup; Richard Brierley, Claude; Ron Roberts, Prodem; Phill Hodgkiss, Pokem and Rebecca Watson and Sam Evans as the Chorus.
The musical director was Andrew Rose; choreographer, Amber Brown; stage manager, Jerry Gregson; box office, Fran Gaunt; set design, Michael Gaunt; sound, Ben Walker; projection design, Colin Henchley; lighting design, John Howarth and Gareth Roberts; light operation, Gareth Roberts and Adam Tempest; costumes, Ann Kalis and Jenny Horton; properties and wardrobe, Ann Kalis, Jenny Horton, Colin Henchley, Julia Sheldrake and Fran Gaunt; programme design, Katyana Malcolm.
The pantomime can be seen tonight and tomorrow night at 7.30pm and at 2.30pm tomorrow and Sunday. For ticket details telephone Fran Gaunt on 01332 700821.