What a terrible review to have to do.  Everything was great.  Cinderella is simply a must see show.

The cast were all stars.  From the first moment, the show was swinging.  The overture of familiar songs was played and down the centre aisle came characters from all the pantomimes you can think of from Snow White to Aladdin.

Following this, into the spotlight came our storyteller (Nicholas Pearce) who led us seamlessly through the story, just when we needed him he would appear to update the plot, or to have a joke about the credit crunch, one of the good folk of Woolpit or even the Woolpit whiff.

Every one of the cast was a star during the evening but  if I have to pick some characters out  then the ‘Ugly Sisters’ Germolina (Nigel Lambert) and Emphysema (David Cook) were excellent fun and I just loved the ‘girls outfits’.  For singing I would commend Prince Gaviscon (Jamie Bell) who has an excellent voice.  If I were churlish I might say that Cinderella’s singing voice was sadly not up to the same standard, but she acted well and her smile made up for the singing.

With so much fine acting you would think that something would let them down.  No.  The scenery and scene changes were brilliant.  The opening scene ‘in the village’ made you believe you had stepped outside as the village centre was there on stage.  The Post Office had the Church set just behind it, then there was The Swan Inn and in the middle the village pump.  Every scene change was made without any fuss and considering how small a stage in a village hall is, this in itself was highly commendable.

Cinders and the Prince

Just before the interval the Fairy Godmother performs her magic on a pumpkin and accompanied by smoking, banging flares and snow falling, Cinderella’s magic coach, wheels turning, was led off stage by it’s horses!  Marvellous.  Not content with this, they later entertain us with a fascinating UV lit ‘trip to the wild woods’ where we see flying bats, wolves and foxes moving around on stage in the darkness.  A very clever and enjoyable effect.

All of this was brought together by Stanley Bates’ first class script, which was local, interesting and full of fun.  Just like a village panto should be.

I loved the Prince’s line when ordering a search for Cinderella “Dandini, search the entire land from Drinkstone to Rattlesden”.  You may indeed search the entire land for an enjoyable show, but where else do you need to go, except to return for the next production from the Woolpit Drama Club.  I know I shall.

Rex Mounfield
February 2009

Capacity audiences enjoyed three performances of Cinderella by Woolpit Drama Club last weekend. [February 20/21]

Mounted on an ambitious scale for an amateur group, the production included a black light trip through the eerie Woolpit Woods, a ‘slow motion’ strobe sequence and glittering transformation scene which ended with a full size coach and horses, sprinkled with an artificial snowstorm.

Charlotte Messer made a delicately pretty Cinderella, especially in a glorious fairy tale frock for the ballroom scene, where she was met by her handsome prince, Prince Gaviscon (Jamie Bell), in a splendid silver and white frock coat. A thigh slapping Dandini (Clare Baker) was equally gorgeous in a gold braided jacket.

The ugly sisters, Germolina and Emphysema (Nigel Lambert and David Cook), delighted the audience with broad slapstick, bawdy jokes and energetic song and dance routines. At the other end of the moral spectrum, Fairy Godmother Carol Drury brought a special magic to the role of the good fairy.

Cinderella’s father, Count Credit Crunch (Tim Lodge) quailed before the stinging sarcasm of evil stepmother Lesley Pearson. Buttons (Robert Cook) provided sturdy support for Cinderella in her time of need, with a chirpy good humour and cheerful songs.

Nick Pearce held the threads together as the storyteller who assured the audience that ‘every story has a happy ending.’

A troupe of villagers and ball guests and some delightful little rats and mice added to the gaiety of the evening, which culminated in a rousing finale and the farewell bows, sending the audience out on a tidal wave of warm good feeling.

There is no doubt that the success of such a high quality production depends on the skill and talent of the unseen contributors, from director David Cordon and writer Stanley Bates to the costume designers, stage management, lighting and backstage team.

Well done everyone!