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What started out as a one nighter add-on to the Griffins main panto, has now become a massive hit in its own right – and because, as last year, the script was specially written for the occasion, this year by Richard Haxell, we had a glorious, hilarious, rather rude, but wholly enjoyable evening’s entertainment.

We had a fairly minimal set, which worked well, using the levels to create interest, quick set changes, well thought out lighting and sound was good.

James Driver’s small band sounded good, and putting them on stage was a good move, both from the sound point of view and for the audience.  I understand James wrote the words for the songs, which were all excellent, some very different takes on the original!!  Arrangements were also imaginative, and helped the feel of this being a show in its own right.

Kate Johnson was a great Cinderella – she injected just the right amount of sluttishness into the part, whilst Luke Murphy was a very correct Prince Charming, a good foil to Kate.

The whole show was held together superbly by Richard Lovelock as Buttons and the Narrator – he used his time on stage well, with some good jokes and invoking the normal panto audience participation.

I loved the back to front idea of starting with the bows, and with the audience sing along also near the beginning.

Tim Hayden was back where he  belonged – in a frock and wig as a ribald and bawdy Ugly Sister – along with his more attractive sister well- played by Keith Potter– plus Hannah Synon-Jones as him/her after a make-over – very nicely accomplished.

John O’Leary was a very camp Dandini, played with loads of energy and fun, whilst Richard Alexander was a very Italian Hairy Godfather, good characterisation, which again added contrast and dimension to the piece!

Lorna McCarthy as Sergeant Roley was excellent – a real old-style Sergeant Major, who kept her motley crew under control.  I loved the way she used the character, and although she was shouting out orders etc, we never lost the words or the menace.

The choreography was done by a team of four, and was very relevant, and at times quirky.

I particularly liked the prison song, both words and setting, and thought all the music was well-chosen and very different.

But for me the whole was made by some of the people who played the smaller parts, because although the main principals were excellent, we had some super cameos from the likes of Reece Lowen as the Doctor, singing a difficult song well.  The patient/doctor scene between James Driver and Josh Thompson was hilarious, and Josh Thompson in a mankini during the army scene was a revelation!

The Dragons Den spoof was also very good, with Lynda Fagan and josh Thompson creating very telling characters.

Unfortunately I don’t have room to include all the bits I would like to – but suffice to say it was an excellent production that I loved, I laughed till I cried, but the standard of the show never dropped.

Nova Horley


CINDERELLA II” review date: 28th Jan 2012


Writer & Director:  Richard Haxell MD:  James Driver


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