There’s always a sense of tradition at panto time – or there should be, at any rate. And again, there are traditions. That of the Principal Boy seems to be fast receding into theatrical history as far as the pantomimes which I have seen this year are concerned. Not however in the King’s Lynn presentation of Cinderella , which is written and directed by Chris Jordan.
We have Persephone Fitzpatrick as a dashing and glamorous Prince Charming, with Pippa Raine playing the high-kicking, thigh-slapping Dandini. As both actors are of a height and have dark hair, this makes their role-swapping particularly credible and they sing and dance very well in addition to setting up the essence of their master-servant relationship from the beginning.
Fairy G, a no-nonsense Fairy Godmother, is Letitia Dean, flirting out her rhyming couplets while getting her magic oh-so-slightly wrong. Stephen Dean is a likeable Baron Hardup with audience-favourite Buttons the cheerful Scott Cripps. Then there’s Cinderella herself (Claire Fishenden) – sweet-voiced and prettily vulnerable in her relationship with her stepsisters.
You wouldn’t want to find that fine pair of over-frilled crackers in your Christmas stocking. Ian Marr is Marjorie and Richard Pocock plays Floribunda, man-eating and family-crunching both. They’re very funny, and very nasty – crucially in the scene where they make Cinderella tear up her invitation to the Prince’s ball. They also ring a nice variation on the “ghost” gag, where the family picture gallery comes to life (à la Ruddigore.
Converted corn exchanges, like other multi-purpose venues, tend to have wide but shallow stages. Imagine Theatre’s settings use painted draw curtains to counteract this problem and the costumes of Shelley Stevens are bright with a suitably 18th century flavour – there’s an effective white and gold walk-down for the finale.
Both the young dancers and their more mature colleagues from the Arts Educational Schools make the most of Raine’s choreography. The music is under the direction of Fergus O’Mahoney and blends excerpts from a couple of well-known numbers with variations to suit the different scenes.