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Photo: Stephen A'Court
Photo: Stephen A'Court
Roger Hallís CINDERELLA The Pantomime
Songs by Paul Jenden and Michael Nicholas Williams
Directed by Susan Wilson
Musical Director: Michael Nicholas Williams

at Circa One, Wellington
From 17 Nov 2012 to 23 Dec 2012
[2hrs, incl. interval]

Reviewed by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media], 19 Nov 2012
originally published in The Dominion Post

The opening and closing song ‘It's A Pantomime World' sums up beautifully Circa Theatre's final main bill production of the year, Roger Hall's Cinderella. 

The time-honoured story of poor Cinderella left alone while her two Ugly Sisters and Father go to the ball but how she goes anyway thanks to the ministrations of the Fairy Godmother is still at the heart of this pantomime.

However Hall has added much that is modern, such as the Fairy Godmother's wand which is an iPhone, with many local Wellington references such as the Cuba Mall Bucket Fountain, the buses down Willis Street, the opening of the Hobbit movie and of course the Mayor and her bicycle.

The humour is broad, appealing to both young and old and there are many sight gags.  The mice especially are a very novel feature.

The songs also from Michael Nicholas Williams and Paul Jenden are light, bright and catchy and add much to the overall entertainment value of the show.

But it is the first rate cast, under the assured direction of seasoned director Susan Wilson, that brings the play alive, all decked out in some of the most wonderfully colourful costumes seen on stage in a long while, all created by Paul Jenden.

Acting as narrator as well as Fairy Godmother and Queen is Lyndee-Jane Rutherford.  In her element in these types of roles she performs will bucket loads of energy, has wonderful comic timing, sings beautifully and can even dance.

The roles of Bertha, Gavin Rutherford and Grace, Jon Pheloung, the two Ugly Sisters, are also played with great comic timing, the characters big and exaggerated but never coarse or over-the-top.  Doubling as Father and The King is John Wraight who brings a certain earthiness to the role. 

The young lovers of Cinderella and Prince James are played with endearing sincerity by Chelsea Bognuda and Richard Dey, Bognuda making her Cinderella a very modern girl but still maintaining the character's innocence.  She also has a lovely singing voice which is used to great effect. 

The villain of the piece is Dan Dani, played with all the right nastiness by Sean Allan.

Assisting with the scene changes and completing the cast in the chorus numbers are Paul Jenden and Emma Kinane as Dagma and Schwen from Sweden.

This is a highly entertaining show, great fun for all the family.  
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See also reviews by:
 John Smythe